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Daily News Blog

22
Oct

Bill to Protect Pollinators Passes Subcommittee in New Hampshire and Moves Forward

(Beyond Pesticides, October 22, 2019) Last week, legislators in a New Hampshire House subcommittee passed a bill to restrict the use of pesticides implicated in the decline of pollinator populations. HB 646, dubbed the Saving New Hampshire’s Pollinators Act, will now go to executive session on November 7 for final approval prior to a full vote by the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

If passed through the legislature, New Hampshire would become the fourth state in the nation to curb the use of dangerous pesticides to protect pollinator populations. Maryland, Connecticut, and Vermont have all passed similar pieces of legislation. As reported by the state newspaper Union Leader, the pesticide industry came out in strong opposition to the legislation. Arguments from industry proponents focused on teaching lawmakers the controversy over the role pesticides play in pollinator declines, rather than the science on the dangers that these chemicals pose. These forces encouraged inaction, pushing the idea that it would be preferable to endanger the future of New Hampshire’s beekeepers, native pollinators, state bird and other songbirds, rather than encourage an already necessary shift toward safer pest management practices.

“For many years the big chemical companies have flooded the market with information about how their products are safe and reliable at fixing any problem concerned with outside weeds and pests,” said Representative Catherine Sofikitis (D-Hillsborough), the prime sponsor of HB 646. “Unfortunately, that is not really true. We are losing our pollinators because of the massive amounts of pesticides that are used. Without these pollinators we will not have food. Banning neonic pesticides is a good first step for New Hampshire.”

Although the bill as passed through subcommittee would allow certified applicators to continue using bee-toxic pesticides, advocates are supporting the bill as a critical first step for pollinator protection in the state. Members of the NH Save Our Pollinators Coalition, who attended the latest subcommittee work session wearing yellow in support of the bill, are pleased with lawmakers’ determination to address pesticide use as a means of reversing the ongoing pollinator crisis. In New Hampshire last year, beekeepers lost a reported 37.4% of their honey bee colonies; the year before, 44.2%. Researchers at UNH have documented dramatic declines in several species of native bees over the last few years.

“There is a multitude of scientific data connecting this class of toxic insecticides and others to detrimental effects on pollinators, wildlife and our environment,” said Diana Carpinone of Non-toxic New Hampshire. “HB 646 is an essential step in protecting New Hampshire’s pollinators.”

The bill is set for a final vote in early November and, if successful, would need to be passed by both the full New Hampshire House and Senate, and then signed by the Governor.

“Honey bees and wild pollinators are vital to pollination,” said Fawn Gaudet of the New Hampshire Save Our Pollinators Coalition. “But without action from state lawmakers, the future of our food system remains in jeopardy.”

New Hampshire residents can contact their elected representative today and urge them to join in support of the Saving NH’s Pollinators Act. If you’re in a state that hasn’t acted to safeguard pollinators from toxic pesticides, reach out to your state lawmakers and urge them to introduce legislation. Contact Beyond Pesticides for information and strategies to move your efforts forward, and see the Bee Protective webpage for more resources. See here for Beyond Pesticides full statement in support of HB 646.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

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