Eugene Becomes America’s First Neonicotinoid Free City

By Roy L Hales

Screen shot 2014-03-18 at 3.43.47 PMEugene, Oregon,  just became the first city in North America to ban the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, which many believe are responsible for the decline honey bee populations. “

In their findings it states, “Recent research suggests that there is a possible link between pesticides that contain neonicotinoids and the die-off of plant pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, butterflies, moths, and other insects. Neonicotinoids are synthetic chemical insecticides that are similar instructure and action to nicotine, a naturally occurring plant compound. Neonicotinoids are absorbed into plant tissue and can be present in pollen and nectar, making them potentially toxic to pollinators.”

This document also states, “According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, infants and children may be especially sensitive to health risks posed by pesticides for several reasons: (a) their internal organs are still developing and maturing; (b) in relation to their body weight, infants and children eat and drink more than adults, possibly increasing their exposure to pesticides in food and water; and (c) certain behaviors, such as playing on floors or lawns or putting objects in their mouths, increase a child’s exposure to pesticides used in homes and yards.”

Eugene has had a Pesticide-Free Parks Program since 2006 and now will not “use any product that contains neonicotinoids on any City property.”

Uploaded from http://flickr.com/photo/54458860@N00/125508650 using Flickr upload bot
Hendricks Park in Eugene, http://flickr.com/photo/54458860@N00/125508650  – taken by Chris Phan using Flickr upload bot, courtesy Wikipedia

 Bill HB 4139, was originally drafted in response to several bee-kill incidents last summer. In one case more than 50,000 bees dies after “a licensed pesticide applicator sprayed blooming linden trees, a violation of the pesticide label.” (He was subsequently fined #$3,000).The city council passed this resolution after the Oregon state legislature passed a pollinator protection bill that was gutted of the passages calling for a restriction of neonicotinoid pesticides, and instead set up a task force to explore future restrictions.

The Oregon Legislature should be ashamed of itself for its failure to act on the face of this clear ecological crisis,” said beekeeper and activist Tom Theobald. “The change to restricted use was a step in the right direction, a small step, but a step.”

Approximately 96% of the US bee population is believed to have disappeared in the past few decades.

Neonicotinoids have been the EU since last November, after a European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) report concluded that, “identified a number of critical areas of concern – a high risk to bees, birds, mammals, aquatic organisms and soil-dwelling organisms was identified or could not be excluded on the basis of the available data. Given the importance of bees in the ecosystem and the food chain and given the multiple services they provide to humans, their protection is essential. With its mandate to improve EU food safety and to ensure a high level of consumer protection, EFSA has an important role to play in ensuring their survival.”

(Image at top of page: Downtown Eugene’s skyline and Spencer Butte as seen from Skinner Butte in North Eugene – Jsayre64 photo, courtesy Wikipedia Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)

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