(Beyond Pesticides, June 19, 2014) The city of Spokane, Washington is inching ever closer to a ban on neonicotinoid pesticides, a class of chemicals that has been linked to the global disappearance of honey bee populations. If the ban passes, Spokane will soon be part of a growing movement to protect pollinators.
The Spokane City Council will be voting on the neonicotinoid ordinance this Monday, June 23. The ban will halt both the purchase and use by the city of products that contain neonicotinoids. The ordinance specifically names six types of neonicotinoids used on crops, imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran, acetamiprid, and thiacloprid, and explains that the majority of these chemicals “are highly toxic to bees, can reduced [sic] fecundity, depress the bees immune system, and increase susceptibility to biological infections, and, depending on the amount of exposure, can be lethal/ sub-lethal to the honey bees.” You can read more about the exact wording of this proposed ordinance here.
Council President Ben Stuckart, who introduced the ordinance, wants the city to stop using the chemicals on its properties. The ban would be part of an undertaking to implement environmentally sustainable initiatives at City Hall.
The ordinance would affect all city departments excluding the Parks Department land, which is governed by its own board. According to Stuckart, 32 percent of Spokane is city-owned land on which pesticides might be used. Another 18 percent is controlled by the Parks Department, but Stuckart is hopeful that the Parks Board might follow the city’s lead in banning the products. The ban would not affect private home use on personal property.
If the Spokane City Council does vote to ban neonicotinoids, they will not be alone. Eugene, Oregon took a similar step earlier this year, and the European Union has placed a two-year moratorium on the pesticides. In Congress, Saving America’s Pollinator Act, H.R. 2692, introduced by Representatives John Conyers (D-MI) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), is gaining bipartisan support in the House. The bill aims to suspend the use of neonicotinoid pesticides until a full review of the scientific evidence has been conducted and a field study demonstrates no harmful impacts to pollinators. In the meantime, communities, such as one in Boulder, Colorado, are already taking the initiative to protect pollinators from harmful neonicotinoid pesticides by creating Bee Safe Neighborhoods.
Seattle and Washington State residents, please let elected officials know how you feel about the city protecting bees. Interested in reading up on the issue? Check out Beyond Pesticides BEE Protective page. And don’t forget – this week is Pollinator Week! See all our daily and ongoing events: participate in our photo contest, Twitter chats (#pollinatorchat), and more!
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.