Protecting ecosystem health from harmful, wasteful pesticides: the Birds and Bees Protection Act passes in NY 

Photo courtesy of Corinne Hansch of Lovin’ Mama Farm pictured second from bottom left posting with other advocates supporting the bill in Albany earlier this year.

The Birds and Bees Protection Act passed this session and is moving to Governor Hochul’s desk to be signed into law! The NOFA-NY community’s persistent and persuasive advocacy – which included op-eds and letters to the editor, calls, emails, and visits to Albany – made this win possible! For the past few years, NOFA-NY has joined 200+ other advocacy organizations and businesses, including the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), in fighting for this legislation. The bill was introduced this year by Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal and Assemblymember Deborah Glick.

The first-in-the-nation bill will prevent an estimated 80-90% of neurotoxic neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics) from entering the state’s environment through our water and soil every year. It restricts the use of neonic-treated corn, soybean, and wheat seeds, as well as lawn and garden treatments with exceptions for treating some invasive species. Cornell University research has identified these now-restricted uses as unneeded or easily replaceable with safer alternatives. 

Neonics are widely used for controlling insects in U.S. agriculture and in lawn, garden, and turf care but are a leading contributor to mass losses of bees and other pollinators and limit the production of crops that rely on pollination including some of NY’s most widely-grown crops like apples and cherries. Studies show that global vegetable production is down 3-5%, harming public health by reducing food availability. 

Neonics also pose risks to human health and exposure is pervasive raising significant concerns among New York health experts.  

Over the coming months, NOFA-NY will continue to collaborate with NRDC and others to ensure that the Governor takes the next step of signing this bill into law.  

This post summarizes the article “Landmark Neonic Bill Headed to Governor Hochul’s Desk” by NRDC Pollinator Initiative Acting Director, Dan Raichel. Read Dan’s article for a more detailed description of the research and the importance of this legislation.