Annapolis, MD – On February 25, 2016, the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee passed a version of the Pollinator Protection Act (SB 198). The committee voted 10-1 in favor of restricting consumer use of neonicotinoid (“neonic”) pesticides. The bill now heads to the full Senate.

The bill, sponsored by Senator Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (District 44), would take effect in 2018. The committee removed a provision that any plants, seeds or nursery stock treated with neonics include an informational label or signage in close proximity. The House version of the bill (HB 211), sponsored by Delegate Anne Healey (District 22), is still under consideration by the Environment and Transportation Committee.

Advocates were pleased that the committee passed consumer restrictions, but disappointed that labeling requirements were removed because they believe consumers have the right to know when they are buying plants and seeds treated with neonics. Advocates also hope that the law would take effect sooner than 2018, as hive losses have been increasing rapidly over the past several years.

“The science clearly shows that neonics impair bee immunity, behavior and overall functioning,” said Dr. April Boulton, Ph.D, Director of the Environmental Biology Program at Hood College. “Given that managed bees are our most important pollinators, both economically and ecologically, this deserves our attention now.”

Last year (2014-2015), Maryland beekeepers lost a staggering 61 percent of their hives – about twice the national average and far more than is typical in a year. This is not a one-time problem; since 2006, beekeepers have lost an average of 30 percent of their hives.

Advocates say the bill will help protect pollinators and the state’s beekeeping and farming industries, along with ensuring a safe and plentiful food supply. View a fact sheet for more information.