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Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan Introduces Groundbreaking Bill to Regulate Pesticides

AB 1042 gives the Department of Pesticide Regulation the authority to regulate pesticides used to treat seeds, fixing glaring gap in DPR’s current oversight.

For immediate release:

Sacramento, CA –Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer Kahan (D-Orinda) has introduced a bill to give the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) the authority to regulate pesticides used to treat seeds, fixing a glaring gap in DPR’s current oversight. 

“One would think that the Department of Pesticide Regulation would regulate all pesticide uses – that is not true,” said Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan. “DPR does not protect Californians from the pesticides used to treat seeds. As a result, a huge volume of pesticide use in California may be completely unknown. AB 1042 takes the long-overdue step of resolving this loophole.”

AB 1042 does not restrict pesticide use – it directs the department to adopt regulations of the pesticides used on seeds, mirroring existing authority for crop applications. In doing so it closes a major gap in oversight to ensure illegal pesticides are eliminated and essential pesticides are used responsibly in California’s food system.

Pesticides on seeds have serious implications for pollinator health, water quality, and human exposure to unregulated toxics. Data by the California Department of Food and Agriculture shows that, between 2011 and 2021, dozens of pesticide products not approved for use in California appeared on seeds. These pesticides are systemic, which means they stay in the plants through their life cycle. When applied directly to a seed, 95% or more of the active ingredients typically stay in the soil, contaminating water supplies and food sources for years.

“When is a pesticide not considered a pesticide? Bee-killing neonics and other pesticides coated onto seeds are currently unregulated, and that's peculiar, problematic and horrible for the bees. California can do better,” said Laura Deehan, Director of Environment California.

Even though they are harmful to human and pollinator health, seeds treated with pesticides are often treated with these chemicals unnecessarily.  Seed treatments are in advance of planting, so they don’t necessarily speak to the needs of a famer. Studies suggest that for a majority of cases, the cost of seed treatment is not recouped by the farmer through yield.[1]

"Seed coatings are the main use of pesticides in California and have disastrous implications, yet they go unregulated by the State," said Hardy Kern, Director of Government Relations for American Bird Conservancy. "AB 1042 protects birds, people, and ecosystems by empowering DPR to make informed decisions about these devastating chemical applications."

“Pesticide use on seeds should be monitored and regulated to keep our pollinators safe and our water sources clean.” said Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan.