Maryland Passes Bill That Would Keep Pesticides Harmful To Bees Off Retail Shelves

Image courtesy of Theodore Scott

Although some retailers have stopped selling pesticides that are thought to be harmful to bees, amid concerns over the declining population of honeymakers, Maryland will become the first state to have a legal measure barring the products.

The Pollinator Protection Act [PDF] gained final approval in the state’s General Assembly on Thursday, reports the Baltimore Sun, after the House and Senate had previously approved versions of the bill. It’s now with Governor Larry Hogan, and will become law if he signs it.

Consumers won’t be allowed to buy any pesticides that contain neonicotinoids — also known as neonic pesticides — starting in 2018, if the bill becomes law. However, farmers, veterinarians, and certified pesticide applicators will still be allowed to use those pesticides.

Environmental groups have been pushing the bill, with the help of beekeepers, who often showed up at the State House wearing all-white beekeeping attire. Advocates of these kinds of measures say that there’s evidence that neonicotinoids are helping kill off bees, which are very important because of their job pollinating plants.

Maryland would become the first state to have such a law on the books. Portland, OR has banned pesticides containing neonicotinoids, while home improvement chain Lowe’s promised to stop selling those products to consumers in 2015, and other retailers including BJ’s Wholesale Club and Home Depot stopped sale on the pesticides in 2014. Ace and TruValue Hardware are now considering taking similar action.

“We hope it also motivates other states — and the federal government — to reduce the use of toxic neonic pesticides,” Ruth Berlin, executive director of the Maryland Pesticide Education Network said in a statement. “Our future food supply is at stake.”

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