State Assembly passes much-needed bills to save bees

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California Assembly passed two bills to protect bees and other wildlife from pesticides. Authored by Asm. Rebecca Bauer Kahan (Orinda), the Pollinator Protection Act (AB 363) approved Wednesday, instructs the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to develop rules to limit the use of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides, which are better known as “neonics.” Nine other states, most recently Colorado, have taken similar approaches. Asm. Bauer Kahan’s second measure (AB 1042) approved on Tuesday, gives the DPR the authority to regulate pesticides that are used to treat seeds, closing an oversight gap. 

“These are hugely important bills aimed at protecting wee small bees,” said Laura Deehan,  State Director for Environment California.Now we are one step closer to making life safer for nature’s best pollinators.” 

California is home to roughly 1,600 native species of bees, and farmers across the state use honeybees to help pollinate crops. 

According to a study published in the journal PLOS One, neonics are 1,000 times more toxic to bees than DDT. Sublethal doses cause immune deficiencies and 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. 

“Pesticides used on seeds are unregulated and unmonitored, leaving Californians without protections.” said Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan. “As a result, a huge volume of pesticide use in California is completely unknown. AB 1042 takes the long-overdue step of resolving this loophole. I’m proud to be continuing my work with both AB 363 and AB 1042 to protect the environment, human health, and save the bees!”

This summer, canvassers from Environment California’s Los Angeles and Bay Area offices will create a buzz about the need to save the bees. The canvassers will hold thousands of one-on-one conversations to educate the public and build support for the bee-saving measures, which are sponsored by Environment California, American Bird Conservancy and NRDC. “To enjoy many of the wonders of life, whether it’s a meadow filled with wildflowers or a dinner plate with delicious foods, we need bees, and we need to take the sting out of the toxic lawns, parks and more that are killing them,” concluded Deehan. 

Bees aren’t the only creatures harmed by the overuse of these pesticides. “The under-regulation and overuse of pesticide-coated seeds is one of the greatest modern threats to birds.” Said E. Hardy Kern of the American Bird Conservancy. “AB1042’s passage would be a major win in the fight against bird decline.”

California’s water quality testing have found these toxic pesticides in water samples far from agricultural lands.“Neurotoxic neonic pesticides show up all over the state, from urban waterways to the bodies of pregnant women in California,” said Lucas Rhoads, Staff Attorney at Natural Resources Defense Council. “But so far, DPR has failed to look at the impacts of their use in urban and suburban areas where many Californians live, work, and play and where neonic water pollution is often the highest. AB 363 ensures that DPR takes a hard look at these harmful and unnecessary uses as soon as possible.