Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Maryland Protects Its Pollinators with Limits on Bee-Addicting Pesticides

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Maryland Protects Its Pollinators with Limits on Bee-Addicting Pesticides

Article excerpt

Maryland is cracking down on a commonly used pesticide found to harm bees, an essential pollinator of many of the nation's crops.

The bill, which passed the Maryland House of Delegates on Thursday on a 98-to-39 vote, would pull pesticides known as neonicotinoids off retail store shelves beginning in 2018. The pesticides, which have found to be harmful to bees when sprayed on some crops including cotton and citrus, would be limited to people who are certified to provide pest control, farmers and veterinarians.

In recent years, scientists say the bee population has been rapidly declining due to a combination of factors, including poor nutrition, mites, disease, and the use of pesticides.

In 2014, beekeepers reported losing about 40 percent of their honey bee colonies, which contribute more than $15 billion to the value of agricultural crops, White House science adviser John Holdren said last year. But bees' economic impact goes beyond honey - other crops, from peaches to pumpkins, rely on pollinators, too.

"Pollinators are struggling," Dr. Holdren wrote in a blog post in May 2015, announcing a strategy to protect pollinators and calling for people across the country to monitor their use of pesticides. "YOU can think carefully before applying any pesticides and always follow the label instructions. YOU can find out more about the pollinator species that live near you," he added.

As the federal government approved a wide-reaching plan to save the population of wild and honey bees by restoring 7 million acres of bee habitat in the next five years, much of the discussion has revolved around the use of neonictinoids.

Two teams of scientists found last year that neonictinoids are especially harmful to wild bees, although some studies have drawn criticism from pesticidemakers. When the pesticides are sprayed on crops and spread to pollen and nectar, bees can experience an addictive craving for the substances similar to human addiction to nicotine, The Christian Science Monitor's Pete Spotts reported last year.

Two studies published in the journal Nature found that for honey bees, it took a relatively large dose of imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid, to cause harmful effects. …

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