Mike Rogge

Unwarranted pesticide restrictions proposed

By Mike Rogge

Capitol Update, May 13, 2016 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

SB 1282 by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) would require two things: 1) the reclassification of neonicotinoid pesticides as restricted materials by January 1, 2018, which would eliminate them from use and specify labeling of seeds and plants sold at retail establishments that have been treated with neonicotinoid. The sponsor of the bill, Bee Smart California, actually want to see pesticide use banned altogether in California.

Neonicotinoids are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically related to nicotine. They are used in both indoor and outdoor pest control products to manage insects including bedbugs, stink bugs, cockroaches, fleas, grubs and invasive species like Emerald Ash Bore. Neonicotinoids were developed in large part because they show reduced toxicity compared to previously used organophosphates and carbamate insecticides. Most neonicotinoids show much lower toxicity in mammals than insects, and many products are approved for use on pets to control fleas and ticks.

SB 1282 is not scientifically consistent. Last year, scientists from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), the University of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a multi-year study confirming the results of other research -- that field-relevant exposure of neonicotinoids have negligible effects on honey bee health. Further large-scale studies in Europe show that poor bee health is associated with disease and parasites, such as the Varroa mite. The USDA determined the Varroa mite as the “single most detrimental pest of honey bees.”

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is working with the USEPA and the Canadian Pest Control Management Regulatory Agency on a five-year pollinator risk assessment for neonicotinoids. The joint collaboration expects to issue the final risk assessments by the end of this year. If a risk can be identified, it is the role of DPR and USEPA to mitigate risk through appropriate changes in use or labeling restrictions. It is inappropriate for SB 1282 to intervene and circumvent this process. Even the California State Beekeeper Association has submitted a letter in opposition to SB 1282.

DPR has indicated a general fund cost of $13 million to establish a new program to regulate sales of neonicotinoid treated seeds and plants and an ongoing potential revenue loss of $1.1 million in mill assessments annually as well as a reduction of approximately $660,000 annually to the local county agricultural commissions.

The California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) could face a significant fiscal impact in the event there is an Asian Citrus Psyllids outbreak as a result of decreased consumer and agricultural crop treatment. CDFA would be the department charged with the State’s response which could include large-scale aerial pesticide application.

This bill is now in the Senate Appropriations Committee on their Suspense File. Whether or not it moves on to the floor will not be known until May 26th or 27th.  CMTA opposes SB 1282.

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