Trenton – A broad coalition of environmental organizations is urging Assembly legislative leaders to move forward with passage of A2070/S1016, a bill which eliminates unnecessary non-agricultural use of neonicotinoid insecticides (“neonics”). Neonics are neurotoxins that decimate bees and other wildlife populations, extensively contaminate New Jersey’s water and lands, and may be harming the health of residents.


New Jersey’s pollinators are disappearing, with beekeepers losing between 40% to 50% of their colonies annually for most of the last decade. Honeybees are a $7 million industry in New Jersey and—along with wild bees and other pollinators—help pollinate nearly $200 million worth of fruits and vegetables annually. These include some of the state’s most valuable food crops, including blueberries, cherries, apples, peaches, pumpkins, cucumbers, tomatoes, and squash. Rutgers University research indicates many of these crops are “pollinator limited”—meaning a lack of pollinators is already resulting in lower crop yields.


A large and growing body of science confirms that widespread neonic use is a leading cause of pollinator losses and links neonics to declines in birds, the collapse of fisheries, birth defects in white-tailed deer, and a variety of health harms in other mammals, including humans.


“Don’t be fooled by front groups for chemical companies with innocuous sounding names. Widespread use of toxic pesticides, like bee-killing neonics, are scientifically proven to be anything but environmentally friendly. Pesticide companies can’t be allowed to continue to put profits over the health and well-being of our residents and food supply,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “We thank Assemblyman Calabrese and Senator Smith for their leadership, and urge Speaker Coughlin to quickly post the Save the Bees Act for a final vote to do our part to save the bees.”


“Placing targeted restrictions on neonicotinoid pesticides is critical to protect not only the state’s bees, but also the health of our ecosystems overall,” said Drew Tompkins, Director of Policy for NJ Audubon. “These dangerous pesticides kill aquatic invertebrates, which are foundational to our food chains, and can even kill or cause sublethal harm to larger animals such as birds. The legislature must take the smart, well-tailored actions proposed in the ‘Save the Bees Bill,’ and we thank the sponsors for their leadership.”


A recent report by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) shows that neonic pollution in New Jersey is widespread—finding neonics in over half of 250 water samples taken from 123 sites across the state, with most detected levels exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s  chronic benchmark levels for harms to aquatic ecosystems.


“Clean drinking water is essential to all living beings,” said Jennifer M. Coffey, Executive Director of ANJEC. “Neonics are not only threatening our wildlife and pollinators, but they are threatening the very basis of life: clean drinking water. Restricting their use is one of the first steps we can take to protect ourselves and future generations from further dangers of this neurotoxin. Instead of waiting for more drastic effects of neonics, we need to act now.”


“The widespread damage done by neonicotinoids to the health of bees and other insect populations has spread throughout the entire food chain — including humans.  It is way past time for us to curb the use of them and try to correct the abuse we have heaped on our ecology and environment,” said Julia Somers, Executive Director of the New Jersey Highlands Coalition.


“Pollinators support thriving agriculture and promote the unique biodiversity of New Jersey. A2070, the ‘Save the Bees’ Bill, is a vital step towards protecting New Jersey’s pollinators, farms and ecosystems from the harmful impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides,” said Jaclyn Rhoads, Assistant Executive Director of Pinelands Preservation Alliance.


“The problems that neonicotinoids cause are horrendous. They are distributed through the tissues of treated plants, and because they remain highly toxic even at very low concentrations, they poison the nectar and pollen that bees and other pollinators contact and eat,” said Emile DeVito, Ph.D., Manager of Science and Stewardship at New Jersey Conservation Foundation. “We support the Save the Bees Bill, A2070, which would classify neonicotinoids as restricted-use pesticides, and help lessen the poisoning of pollinator populations that the entire ecosystem food web, including our food crops, depend upon.”


“Neurotoxic pesticides decimate the pollinator populations of our state, contribute to contamination of our waters and lands, and are harmful to the health of our residents. Neonicotinoid application is an ill-conceived, short-sighted practice that destroys, rather than restores, our valuable habitat corridors,” said Heather Fenyk, Ph.D. AICP/PP, President, Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership. “Robust pollinator populations rely on well-connected and pesticide-free habitat that provides additional benefits for our communities, including air quality improvements, carbon sequestration, ecosystem resilience, and the promise of a healthy sustainable future. For these reasons the Lower Raritan Watershed Partnership holds a neonicotinoid-free vision for our Raritan Watershed and the rest of New Jersey.”


“This science-driven bill targets New Jersey’s largest, most harmful, and unnecessary uses of neonic pesticides, which contaminate soil and water, kill bees, and may pose hazards to public health,” said Dan Raichel, Acting Director of the Pollinator Initiative at NRDC. “Eliminating needless neonic use is a win-win-win for the state’s pollinators, farmers, and residents.”


It’s been over a year since the Senate voted to pass the Save the Bees Bill, S1016, sponsored by Senator Bob Smith (D) and Senator Kip Bateman (R), in a strongly bipartisan fashion. This legislation will address the largest and most pervasive sources of neonic contamination in the state, helping protect our clean drinking water and ecosystems for our children and grandchildren. Groups are asking Speaker Coughlin to post the Save the Bees Act without further delay.


Find out more about the legislation and why it’s necessary here.

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