Ever since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a report early this year that one of the four neonicotinoids it has been researching poses a potential risk to bees, the demand for banishment of the pesticides has grown.
In Illinois, legislation has been proposed to ban the use of neonicotinoids on public lands owned or cared for by the state and prohibit the use of neonicotinoid insecticides in outdoor residential applications as well.
Dubbed the Saving Illinois’ Pollinators Act, the same version of the bill was introduced in both the state House and Senate. Neither has gotten any traction. HB5900 was introduced Feb. 11 and has yet to be considered in committee. The Senate version, SB2965, was introduced a week later and was postponed on March 10.
The bill outlines all the species harmed by the popular class of pesticides and notes that the European Union already has suspended the use of three neonicotinoids: imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam.
“The purposes of the Act are: (1) to protect Illinois’ honey bees, native bees, other pollinators, insects, birds, and animals from exposure to neonicotinoid insecticides; and (2) to defend and protect Illinois’ agricultural economy and natural ecosystems,” as stated in HB5900.
Although the legislation apparently has stalled in Illinois, introduction of the bills did not go unnoticed. Farm groups, among others, believe proponents of the ban are jumping the gun, especially because EPA has yet to take any final action. Illinois agricultural interests say studies of neonicotinoids have been inconclusive and the pesticides are needed.
“They do have a use: to protect our crops from insects,” Bill Bodine, association director of state legislation at the Illinois Farm Bureau, told WUIS.org.
Across the Atlantic, the move toward banning neonicotinoids is progressing. Late last Thursday, France’s National Assembly managed to pass legislation banning neonicotinoids by a narrow margin. For the ban to take effect, however, it must still be approved by the French Senate, then undergo a final vote in the National Assembly. If it wins final passage, the ban would go into effect Sept. 1, 2018.
While the European Union did limit the usage of neonicotinoids in 2013, France plans to outlaw all neonicotinoids completely. France’s environment minister, Segolene Royal, is in favor of the legislation and also hopes to phase out the use of glyphosate.
“This decision will prepare us for the future and protect bees and the role they play,” Royal told Reuters. “Research and development of substitute products has to accelerate.”
Farmer groups in France are also against this ban, saying it will put the country at a disadvantage when trying to produce crops with no viable alternatives to kill pests.
In a study conducted in 2014, nearly 60 percent of the 750 turf and ornamental professionals polled listed a neonicotinoid as one of their most used insecticides. A little more than half felt that losing access to neonicotinoids would result in reduced income for their businesses.
Federal pollinator bills that ban neonicotinoids have died in Congress, but if states like Illinois are successful in passing legislation, it could cause a ripple effect.