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Margie Alt,
Environment America

Minnesota is the Bees Knees When it Comes to Protecting Pollinators

For Immediate Release

Boston, MA - Demonstrating national leadership, today Minnesota’s Governor Mark Dayton and Commissioner of Agriculture Dave Frederickson announced a comprehensive plans to limit the use of bee-harming pesticides across their state.
“Congratulations to Minnesota -- the first state to tackle the use of bee killing pesticides on both farms and on public lands,” said Margie Alt, Executive Director of Environment America.  “Given the critical role bees play in pollinating our food supply, this is a huge boon to our dinner tables and our families’ health.”
Scientists, bee-keepers, farmers and others have documented a major die-off of bee populations over the past decade. On average we are losing 30-40% of all bee hives each year.  Bees and other pollinators are responsible for pollinating approximately one in three bites of food that Americans eat and for pollinating the vast majority of foods eaten worldwide.  The use of neonicotinoids (Neonics) has been linked to the collapse of bee colonies in numerous scientific studies.
“Although it falls short of banning neonic usage – which we believe is necessary to protect the bees and our food supply-- the Minnesota plan will ensure that bee-harming pesticides aren’t used unnecessarily,” added Alt.  “This is a big leap in the right direction.”
Specifically, the Minnesota plan requires growers who want to apply neonicotinoids to their crops or plants to provide a “verification of need” to the department of agriculture before doing so. In addition, the plan announced today lays the groundwork for reducing the use of neonicotinoid seed coatings currently the largest use of neonics.        

                                                                                                                           
Nationally over 90 percent of corn seed, and nearly 50 percent of soybean seed, is coated with neonicotinoids before being planted. Although used in Minnesota, coated seeds are excluded from the new plan because a federal loophole exempts seed coatings from being classified as a “pesticide application”.  The federal EPA must act in order to ensure that neonic-coated seeds do not continue to kill of bees and other pollinators.  In the meantime, Governor Dayton’s executive order calls on the Minnesota state legislature to take action on treated seeds.
“All of us who love food applaud Governor Dayton and the state of Minnesota.  We hope other states take this kind of leadership as quickly as possible.  And, we call on the Obama Administration to act swiftly and boldly to close the loophole on neonic-treated seeds and ban all uses of neonics.  At the end of the day, if there are no bees, we will have no food” said Alt.