Statement: California State Senate passes legislation to limit bee-killing pesticides

Media Contacts
Ben Grundy

Former Conservation Campaign Associate, Environment California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California State Senate passed legislation (AB 2146) by a 30-4 vote Monday evening to ban most non-agricultural uses of the neonicotinoid class of pesticides, commonly known as neonics.

At levels often found in the environment, neonics affect bees’ brain and reproductive development, make pollen-collecting trips longer and more exhausting, and prevent bees from ridding themselves of parasitic varroa mites. An enormous and growing body of research reveals that neonics’ extraordinary toxicity and pervasiveness in California’s environment are rapidly killing bees and other pollinators, threatening native plants and valuable crops that depend on insect pollination. 

Additionally, because neonics are systemic pesticides, local bodies of water are especially susceptible to contamination from urban or agricultural runoff. Samples from 58% of Northern California and 92% of Southern California urban waterways contained the neonic imidacloprid.

If signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, California will join a growing number of states that have implemented similar limits on neonics, including Maine, New Jersey and New York. The bill would ban neonics on most lawns, gardens and golf courses, with exceptions for combating invasive pests and other specified cases.

In response, Ben Grundy, conservation associate with Environment California, released the following statement:

“California has more than 1,600 native bee species, making our state home to over one-third of all bee species in North America. With nearly 1 in 4 of these native bee species at risk of extinction and beekeepers experiencing unprecedented rates of honeybee colony collapse, we know that neonics are putting California’s ecologically diverse landscapes and agricultural systems at risk. 

“By passing this legislation, California reaffirms itself as an environmental leader and demonstrates that we are taking the necessary steps to protect our pollinators — and therefore, our food supply. We thank the members of the California State Senate for passing this legislation today and the bill’s author, Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan for all of her hard work.

“Environment California is calling on Gov. Newson to sign the bill to save the bees and protect our pollinators.”