Calabrese, Mukherji & Benson Bill to Restrict the Use of Neonicotinoid Pesticides in NJ Clears Assembly Panel

To reduce the harmful effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on pollinators, Assembly Democrats Clinton Calabrese, Raj Mukherji, and Daniel Benson sponsored legislation to limit the application of the widely used insecticide. The measure recently cleared the Assembly Environment Committee.

Research suggests that neonicotinoids have an adverse impact on pollinating insects, and may contribute to the disappearance of bee populations and colony collapse disorder.  Neonicotinoids work as neurotoxins attacking the nervous systems of these insects.  These chemicals pollute pollen and nectar, which is a threat to bee populations.

“Without a healthy honey bee population, successful fruit and vegetable production would be at risk,” said Calabrese (D-Bergen, Passaic). “New Jersey’s 20,000 bee colonies represent a $7 million honey bee industry and contribute to the successful production of nearly $200 million worth of fruits and vegetables annually. The prolific use of neonicotinoids can be a threat to this industry and the overall agricultural industry’s health.”

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that certain neonicotinoids used on farms and gardens can harm honeybees, bumblebees, and solitary bees. Nearby crops and wild plants can also be contaminated and the insecticides can accumulate in soil. Neonicotinoids also have been detected in streams, honey, garden flowers, and wildflowers.

“In recent years, New Jersey has lost a measurably higher percentage of its honeybee population than the national average,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “While our state has done everything possible to encourage pollinator growth and healthy pollination since, reducing the use of neonicotinoid pesticides will allow us to further protect the bee population, protect the environment from the harmful effects of these chemicals, and preserve our fruit and vegetable economy and the industry’s jobs.”

“The European Union has banned neonicotinoid pesticides, yet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recently allowed several of the pesticides to remain in the US marketplace,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “Neonicotinoids can be replaced by effective and more environmentally friendly alternative pest control methods. Curbing its use is a smart decision for New Jersey and the state’s future environmental health.”

Under the bill (A-2070), the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) would adopt, within one year, rules and regulations classifying neonicotinoid pesticides as restricted-use pesticides.  Every three years DEP would be required to review the latest scientific information regarding neonicotinoid pesticides and classify any that will cause harm to pollinating bees, birds, other pollinating wildlife, or aquatic invertebrates as restricted-use pesticides.

Also included in the legislation, a person would be restricted from selling, offering for sale, or using within the State any neonicotinoid pesticide, unless the pesticide is registered and will only be applied by a licensed pesticide applicator to an agricultural plant.

The bill is under consideration by the Assembly Speaker for a floor vote.