Legislation would ban bee-killing pesticides in Alaska before they impact farms
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 10, 2014
JUNEAU – Today, Representative Harriet Drummond pre-filed legislation to ban a class of pesticides that harm bee populations local agriculture businesses depend on to pollinate berries and other crops. The legislation (HB224) aims to prevent the introduction of these pesticides before they impact Alaskan agriculture as they have in the Lower 48 and around the world.
“We often overlook just how important bees are to Alaskan agriculture,” said Drummond. “We can prevent the problems farmers are facing Outside by getting ahead of the curve and banning these pesticides that harm bees before they get to Alaska.”
According to the Alaska Grown program, more than two-thirds of the program’s farmers grow crops that depend on bees for pollination. Bee populations globally have been in alarming decline since 2006. Widespread use of a relatively new class of toxic pesticide, neonicotinoids, is widely regarded as a significant contributing factor. In addition to killing bees outright, research shows even low levels of neonicotinoids can impair bees’ ability to find their way back to the hive, collect food, produce new queens and mount an effect immune response.
Alaska has 49 different species of bees including the native bumble bee which is an essential pollinator for Alaska’s berry species. In addition, Alaska farms import over 9 million European honey bees each year for producing local honey.
“We see what’s happening to bees around the world, and we have a chance to prevent it from happening here,” said Drummond. “It’s hard enough being a farmer in Alaska, and here we have a chance to take advantage of our isolation by keeping these poisons out before they cost our local farmers.”
The bill does not restrict neonics found in products like RoundUp for ornamental lawn plants or to anything used for crops grown in a greenhouse. The sole purpose of the bill is to prevent these pesticides known to harm bees from being used in seed treatments or applied to crops outside a greenhouse.