Petition Asks Mass. Legislature to Give Bees a Chance

By ecoRI News staff

Bees pollinate 71 of the 100 most common food crops in the world. (ecoRI News)

Bees pollinate 71 of the 100 most common food crops in the world. (ecoRI News)

Environment Massachusetts recently delivered a petition signed by 20,000 residents asking state officials to restrict the use of bee-killing pesticides known as neonicotinoids.

“A world without bees would mean a world without many of our favorite summer foods,” said Ben Hellerstein, state director for Environment Massachusetts. “People are speaking out to save our pollinators.”

Across the country, millions of bees are dying and bee colonies are in distress because of a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, according to Hellerstein. While many factors are implicated in colony collapse disorder, one cause is the increased use of neonicotinoid insecticides, also known as neonics.

The petition asked state officials to restrict the use of neonics. Rep. Carolyn Dykema, D-Holliston, and Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, have filed bills (H.763 and S.463) to reduce the use of these pesticides.

“Virtually every one of my colleagues in the Legislature has heard from residents who understand the gravity and urgency of the threats to pollinator health,” Dykema said. “This is thanks to grassroots advocacy from students, beekeepers, scientists, farmers, and thousands of concerned citizens across Massachusetts who care about our environment, our food supply, and our bees.”

"Having fewer bees to pollinate our crops will have a catastrophic impact on our food supply and damage local economies,” Eldridge said.

Bees pollinate 71 of the 100 most common food crops in the world, including apples, pumpkins, cranberries, and blueberries. Officials in Maryland, Connecticut, and Vermont have passed laws to reduce neonicotinoid use.

“Every few weeks we see another peer-reviewed study supporting restrictions on neonics,” said Marty Dagoberto, policy director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s Massachusetts chapter. ““There’s no justification to keep these toxic chemicals on store shelves for untrained consumers. It’s time for the legislature to restrict use to licensed and trained pesticide applicators.”