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Daily News Blog

03
Jan

Watchdog Groups Urge Maryland to Better Enforce State’s Pollinator Protection Act

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2019) Bee-toxic pesticides banned for consumer use by the state of Maryland are still being sold in hardware and garden stores, according to reports from beekeeper and consumer watchdog groups. In 2016, Maryland passed the Pollinator Protection Act, which limited the use of neonicotinoids, insecticides implicated in the global decline of pollinator populations, to only certified applicators. According to spot checks by the Maryland Pesticide Education Network (MPEN) and the Central Maryland Beekeepers Association (CMBA), state enforcement agencies still have a ways to go to ensure retailers are complying with the law.

From May to October 2018, six volunteers visited 30 Maryland stores along the Baltimore-Washington corridor to see whether they are complying with the law by removing bee-toxic neonicotinoids from retail consumer sale. Eleven of the 30 stores were not in compliance, ranging from local home and garden stores to national big-box chains.

“I’ve taken bottles off the shelf and taken them up to an employee or a manager, and said, ‘You really need to stop selling this stuff — it’s illegal,’” said Steve McDaniel, a master beekeeper in Carroll County to the Bay Journal.

The state, for its part, indicates that staffing problems at the Maryland Department of Agriculture have led to the weak roll-out in enforcement during the law’s first year. MDA pesticide manager Dennis Howard told the Bay Journal, “They should be behind the counter, for the folks who can actually apply it under the legislation. I told the inspectors to try to do as many as they can,” he said, “… and speak to the managers of stores, so sales people won’t let [consumers] purchase it.”

But Ruth Berlin, executive director of MPEN, says that many retailers have been antagonistic when asked to remove bee-toxic products. “They said, ‘So what? It’s OK. No one’s going to make us take it away,” Berlin indicated to the Bay Journal.

Beekeepers and other advocates are right to be concerned about the slow roll-out. Passage of the Maryland law was hard-fought, with beekeepers donning suits to the state General Assembly, and overcoming the threat of a veto from Governor Hogan. According to the Bee Informed Partnership, Maryland beekeepers have lost an average of roughly 40% of their hives each year since the start of this decade.

“Most people, they really feel like because we got the law passed, we’re out of the woods on bee deaths,” said Bonnie Raindrop with CMBA. “What we’re seeing is a trend that’s getting worse.”

Getting compliance in line is critical to protecting pollinators, according to experiences in other countries. The City of Amsterdam in the Netherlands has seen significant success in protecting pollinators as a result of policies that banned consumer use of neonicotinoids and improved habitat.

Neonicotinoids are systemic insecticides which, once applied, are taken up by the plant and expressed in the pollen, nectar, and dew drops the plant produces. Chemicals not immediately taken up will either remain in the soil, where they have the potential to re-contaminate next year’s plantings, or work their way through the groundwater table and present a threat to aquatic species.

To date, Maryland and Connecticut are the only states to have joined the dozens of localities that have that restricted neonicotinoids use and enacted pollinator protection policies. With the start of the New Year, and new legislative sessions, now is the time to reach out to your local, state, and federal elected officials and ask them whether they’ll introduce or support legislation to protect pollinators. Contact Beyond Pesticides for information and assistance in speaking with your elected officials.

In Maryland, beekeepers will continue to watchdog MDA’s enforcement of the new law. “If they’re still carrying it next spring, we’re going to come down on [them] with both feet,” said Master Beekeeper Steve McDaniel.

More information on how to help pollinators in your community can be found on the Bee Protective webpage.

Source: Bay Journal

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Archives

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