Did Senator Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls) just kick a beehive?
One of the pro-pollinator policy victories of the 2014 legislative session was the inclusion of language defining pollinator-lethal insecticides in Minnesota statute and a ban on labeling and marketing plants and seeds treated with such chemicals as "bee friendly."
The law was hailed as a victory for consumers who want to be able to plant pollinator-friendly habitat without unknowingly killing bees, butterflies and other pollinators. As pollinator populations decline, many Minnesotans hope to create islands of habitat and food for these valuable insects and birds.
Unfortunately, the insecticide industry is fighting back, and it won another battle in the war against bees today in the Minnesota Senate Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development Committee when Senator Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls) moved to amend SF1459 so that existing language would be deleted from statute.
"This is loosely drawn language, it's very vague," Dahms said. ". . . This was passed in the House last year, and the concern I have is that we're going to start asking people when they apply for money through Legacy or LCCMR, we're going to insist they meet this and it's really going to be hard to do that because the terms and the facts just aren't there. . . " (We post the section of statute below).
But it's not just wildlife habitat will be affected. As a consequence of removing the language, greenhouses and garden stores could market bee-lethal, neonic-treated plants and seeds as "pollinator friendly" to the home gardener.
Here's the video--which we hope gets pollinator-friendly Minnesotans buzzing (and calling their legislators):
The bee backstory
As Bluestem has reported earlier in Pesticide industry lobbyist fears neonics ban on wildlife habitat acreage only first step to GMO-hating, organic-loving hippie takeover, over the objections of an influential industry lobbyist, pollinator champion Representative Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul) was able to insert language requiring pollinator-friendly plants and seeds to be used in new Legacy lands.
Sadly, that common sense measure is no longer in the House bill. Last week, we reported in "Bees don't eat corn," so Denny McNamara totally down with poison pollen on Legacy land, that language was taken out of the Legacy finance bill.
The pesticide industry's influence grew even more toxic on Wednesday with the senate committee's unanimous voice vote.
In 2008, Minnesota voters overwhelming voted to change the state constitution and tax themselves to fund clean water and wildlife habitat. People seeking to help pollinators--which are essentially for the propagation of many fruits and vegetables--have hoped to make Legacy lands rich in habitat for pollinators. They're not whitetails or ducks, but they are part of our non-game wildlife heritage.
Contact the committee
In addition to contacting your own legislators about your concern for sound pollinator policy, we recommend contacting the committee members as well via email or social media. They are Dan Sparks (27, DFL) (Chair); Matt Schmit (21, DFL); Gary H. Dahms (16, R); Terri E. Bonoff (44, DFL); Kent Eken (04, DFL); Foung Hawj (67, DFL); Lyle Koenen (17, DFL); Carla J. Nelson (26, R); Ann H. Rest (45, DFL); Carrie Ruud (10, R); and, Bill Weber (22, R),
The stripped language from 2014 session laws
The underlined language will be removed from statute if the bill becomes law:
CHAPTER 299--H.F.No. 2798
An act relating to environment; prohibiting plants treated with pollinator lethal insecticide from being labeled or advertised as beneficial to pollinators; amending Minnesota Statutes 2012, sections 18H.02, by adding a subdivision; 18H.14.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: Section 1. Minnesota Statutes 2012, section 18H.02, is amended by adding a subdivision to read:
Subd. 28a. Pollinator lethal insecticide. "Pollinator lethal insecticide" means an insecticide absorbed by a plant that makes the plant lethal to pollinators. Pollinator lethal insecticide includes, but is not limited to, the neonicotinoid class of insecticides that affect the central nervous system of pollinators and may cause pollinator paralysis or death.
Sec. 2. Minnesota Statutes 2012, section 18H.14, is amended to read: 18H.14 LABELING AND ADVERTISING OF NURSERY STOCK. (a) Plants, plant materials, or nursery stock must not be labeled or advertised with false or misleading information including, but not limited to, scientific name, variety, place of origin, hardiness zone as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture, and growth habit.
(b) All nonhardy nursery stock as designated by the commissioner must be labeled "nonhardy" in Minnesota.
(c) A person may not offer for distribution plants, plant materials, or nursery stock, represented by some specific or special form of notation, including, but not limited to, "free from" or "grown free of," unless the plants are produced under a specific program approved by the commissioner to address the specific plant properties addressed in the special notation claim.
(d) Nursery stock collected from the wild state must be inspected and certified prior to sale and at the time of sale must be labeled "Collected from the Wild." The label must remain on each plant or clump of plants while it is offered for sale and during the distribution process. The collected stock may be grown in nursery rows at least two years, after which the plants may be sold without the labeling required by this paragraph.
(e) A person may not label or advertise an annual plant, bedding plant, or other plant, plant material, or nursery stock as beneficial to pollinators if the annual plant, bedding plant, plant material, or nursery stock has been treated with and has a detectable level of systemic insecticide that: (1) has a pollinator protection box on the label; or (2) has a pollinator, bee, or honey bee precautionary statement in the environmental hazards section of the insecticide product label. The commissioner shall enforce this paragraph as provided in chapter 18J. EFFECTIVE DATE.
This section is effective July 1, 2014.
Presented to the governor May 17, 2014
Signed by the governor May 21, 2014, 10:22 a.m.
We're not sure what's vague about that language.
Screenshot: Senator Dahms (left) discussing his amendment to kill bee-friendly language, while Senator Lyle Koenen (DFL-Clara City) gets ready to whack the insects himself.
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