Seed World

Why Maryland’s Neonic Ban is a Bad Idea

We’re disappointed that the Maryland legislature chose not to stand up for sound science and the rights of Maryland’s homeowners to self-protect their lawns and gardens from destructive pests. Here are five reasons why Maryland’s neonic ban is a bad idea:

1. It blames and hurts Maryland’s homeowners.

This bill inexplicably blames homeowners for the non-existent decline in bees, because it assumes they cannot treat their lawns and gardens responsibly.  The bill takes away an important tool for Maryland homeowners to protect their property, lawns and gardens from dangerous pests.  It doesn’t prevent these products from being used, however, it just requires homeowners to go through pest management companies instead of their local lawn and garden store, a cost-prohibitive choice for many.

2. It doesn’t help pollinators.

The bill does nothing to address the primary factors affecting honey bees: parasites, diseases and lack of available forage.  More beneficial actions could be taken by investing in pollinator habitat or educating growers and beekeepers on best management practices.

3. It ignores science, and the real world.

The Maryland legislature could have looked to experts at federal regulatory agencies who have studied neonics extensively and deemed them safe for use.  Or they could have looked to some of the state’s own scientists who found, “the world’s most common insecticide does not significantly harm honey bee colonies at real-world dosage levels.”  They could have listened to the legislature’s own environmental experts who studied the issue to help inform the legislature before considering the bill. Even the state Agriculture Secretary testified his department “has not documented any cases of neonicotinoid pesticides negatively impacting honeybees in Maryland.”  Instead, they chose not to.

4. It is premature and pre-empts the work of experts in Maryland.

Since scientists tell us bee health is a complex issue with many factors, it would make more sense to address the problem through a comprehensive plan based on sound science.  Thankfully, the Maryland Department of Agriculture already has an effort underway to publish such a plan.  To have a positive impact on bee health, the legislature should have waited on this plan to be complete and worked with the Department of Ag to implement positive solutions.

5. It is based on a faulty premise.

The bill is based on the premise that bees are declining and neonics are the reason.  The reality is that the bee population in the U.S. has been steadily rising over the past twenty years, precisely during the time of widespread adoption of neonics.
—Jeff Donald is senior external communications manager for Bayer’s Crop Science division