Improving Pollinator Health by Decreasing Exposure to Neonicotinoids and Adopting Improved Management Practices
Sponsored by Del. Alfonso López (VA)
Unanimously ratified by the Caucus on December 5, 2019
WHEREAS, the number of Hispanic farm operators in the United States is higher than ever, up 21% to 99,734 since 2007; and,
WHEREAS, at least 83% of all farm workers are Hispanic; and,
WHEREAS, a third of the world’s food production depends on bees, including staple crops such as cotton, potatoes, onions, and cabbage, as well as specialty crops such as coffee beans, almonds and cashews; and,
WHEREAS, pollinator species, particularly honey bees and wild bees, are a critical part of agricultural production making their welfare essential to the livelihood of those farmworkers, farm operators, and more generally human survival; and,
WHEREAS, the recent decline of our bee populations is directly correlated with decreased crop yield in the United States; and,
WHEREAS, at least 22 states have enacted legislation regarding pollinator health; and,
WHEREAS, some of the reasons for bee colony decline include climate change, air pollution, the varoa mite, habitat destruction, and poor management practices; and,
WHEREAS, scientists and governments have identified a particular class of systemic insecticides, called neonicotinoids (neonics); as a significant threat to pollinator species; and,
WHEREAS, the biologically systematic distribution of neonicotinoids allows the insecticide to be absorbed completely by the crop; and,
WHEREAS, plants treated with neonicotinoids absorb the insecticide, contaminating the pollen and nectar which then harm bees and other pollinators that feed on the plant’s nectar; and,
WHEREAS, neonicotinoids were first introduced in 1990 and quickly became the fastest growing and most heavily used class of insecticides in bee-pollinated crops; and,
WHEREAS, honeybees and other pollinators are dying off at unprecedented rates resulting in the rapid decline of managed honeybee colonies by 40.7% between April 1st, 2018 and April 1st, 2019; and,
WHEREAS, within the last decade pollinators are being exposed to a variety of pesticides with “up to 17 different pesticides detected in one sample of pollen from a honeybee”;  and,
WHEREAS, pollinator health is gravely affected by habitat loss and low temperatures and an integral North American pollinator, the rusty patched bumble bee and several wild bee species experienced severe decline. Since the late 1990’s the number of populations has declined by 87% [rusty patched bumble bee]; and,
WHEREAS, in 2013, the European Union voted to suspend the use of three neonicotinoids (Imidacloprid, Clothiandin, and Thiamethoxam) on certain crops due to their damaging effect on pollinators; and,
WHEREAS, in May 2018 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) removed 12 products containing neonicotinoids and canceled their pesticide registrations as a result of a voluntary agreement with three major agribusinesses: Bayer, Syngenta, and Valent;and,
WHEREAS, despite recognition of their danger, only 12 of the 59 products containing the neonicotinoids (Clothianidin, Thiamethoxam, and Imidacloprid). Neonicotinoids used in farming practices still remain on the market particularly the most common application by seed coating; and,
WHEREAS, Maryland became the first state in the country to pass the Pollinator Protection Act which aims to protect and restore pollinator habitats; and,
WHEREAS, pollinator-friendly practices involve using native plants, planting a variety of flowers that bloom continually, and using foliage to create nesting habitats for bees.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) urges state governments to ban all farming uses of neonicotinoid insecticides; and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that, in order to effectuate the ban, NHCSL recommends that states enact legislation so that:
- Plants or plant material sold at retail that have been treated with neonicotinoids shall bear a label that states the following: “WARNING: this product has been treated with neonicotinoid pesticides that are found to harm bees and other pollinators. This plant material or plant may not be used for commercial farming and is only intended for personal or home use on a small scale.” and,
- Plants treated with neonicotinoids are prohibited from being labeled or advertised as beneficial to pollinators; and,
- The respective state agency tasked with overseeing and regulating the agricultural industry takes and document measures to limit pollinator exposure to neonicotinoids; and,
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that additional measures outlined in the Pollinator Protection Act can be taken to help foster and protect the honeybee populations by instituting pollinator-friendly practices.
THE NHCSL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED THIS RESOLUTION ON AUGUST 3, 2019 AT ITS SUMMER MEETING IN SANTA FE, NM.
THE NATIONAL HISPANIC CAUCUS OF STATE LEGISLATORS UNANIMOUSLY RATIFIED THIS RESOLUTION ON DECEMBER 5, 2019, AT THE ANNUAL MEETING IN SAN JUAN, PR.
Refer to table 1 on p.1
Refer to p.2 Birthplace, Ethnicity, and Race. (Other organizations such as Farm Worker Justice estimate an even higher percentage)
2/3rds of the world’s food production depends on self-pollinated or wind-pollinated crops, many staple crops such as wheat, corn, and rice are all pollinated in this manner.
 The Importance of Bees, Food Security, available at https://www.worldbeeday.org/en/about/the-importance-of-bees.html
Minnesota, Oklahoma, Vermont, Virginia, Indiana, Maryland, Oregon, California, Kentucky, Ohio, Washington, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa and Virginia, New York, Oklahoma.
 What’s Killing the Bees and Why it Matters, https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/sustainable-agriculture/save-the-bees/
mgaleg.maryland.gov/2016RS/bills/hb/hb0211f.pdf “Neonicotinoid pesticide” means any pesticide containing a chemical belonging to the neonicotinoid class of chemicals, including: Imidacloprid, Nithiazine, Acetamiprid, Clothianidin, Dinotefuran, Thiacloprid, Thiamethoxan, and any other chemically similar compounds.
 Van der Sluijs J.P., et al., “Conclusions of the Worldwide Integrated Assessment on the risks of neonicotinoids and fipronil to biodiversity and ecosystem functioning,” Environmental Science Pollution Research Institute, January 2015, vol. 22, pp. 148–154
 Managed honey bee populations are populations kept by commercial beekeepers
Data taken from the Bee Informed Partnership, a nonprofit associated with the University of Maryland
Refer to Brittain and Potts 2011
Refer to What’s killing the Bees- and Why it Matters