California passes new bill to curb widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides

The bill will limit the use of neonics to trained professionals beginning in 2025.

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Image Credit: Pesticide Action Network

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California became the tenth state in the country to ban over-the-counter sales of lawn and garden neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Pollinator Protection Act, AB363, authored by Asm. Rebecca Bauer-Kahan and sponsored by Environment California and Natural Resources Defense Council, into law.

The bill will limit the use of neonics to trained professionals beginning in 2025.

“Public health and ecological well-being throughout California are better protected today because of this new law,” Lucas Rhoads, an attorney with the Pollinator Initiative at the NRDC, said. “California joins nine other states that have curbed neonic pollution in the places where people live and play, taking steps to safeguard the communities and species most vulnerable to these dangerous pesticides.”

While California is home to 1,600 native bee species, a recent study found that neonics are 1,000 times more toxic to bees than DDT and can cause “immune deficiencies, disorientation, making it hard for bees to forage, fly, return to their hive and complete other essential tasks such as ridding themselves of parasitic varroa mites,” Environment California reported.

“Taking these pesticides off the shelves is a critical step to saving the bees,” Laura Deehan, state director for Environment California, said. “We can now promise our pollinators, who play such a critical role for our ecosystems from the coast to the mountains, a safer Golden State. We’re thrilled that one in four Americans will now live in a state that has taken this action.”

Because of the overuse of neonics, one in three native bee species is at risk of extinction in California, the study found.

“Our pollinators are threatened, we know the cause, and it’s time to take action,” Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, said. “It’s time to catch up to the rest of the world to save the bees. I’m thrilled Governor Newsom has signed AB 363 to eliminate harmful pesticides and protect our environment without limiting farmers.”

The Pollinator Protection Act also directs the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to complete a review of the remaining neonic uses, including non-agricultural uses, and provide mitigation where needed, the NRDC reported.

“This review will provide California with the information necessary to face head-on the threats posed to the health of 1,600 native bee species, the state’s diverse ecosystems, and Californians.”

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