- Sarah Goodman
SACRAMENTO (October 9, 2023) – With the support of Governor Newsom and persistence from the state legislature, California has passed AB 363 authored by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, which bans over the counter sales of lawn and garden neonicotinoid (Neonic) pesticides by 2025, limiting their use to trained professionals. The bill also directs the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) to complete a timely, thorough, and long overdue review of non-agricultural neonic uses.
Our pollinators are threatened, we know the cause, and it’s time to take action,” said Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan. “It’s time to catch up to the rest of the world to save the bees. I’m thrilled Governor Newsom has signed AB 363 to eliminate harmful pesticides and protect our environment without limiting farmers.”
In addition to being the world’s most widely used insecticides, neonics are likely the most ecologically destructive pesticides since DDT. Phenomenally toxic to bees and other insects, once in an environment, neonics can persist in soil for years and are easily carried long distances by rain or irrigation water. Today, neonics extensively contaminate California surface waters.
“Public health and ecological wellbeing throughout California are better protected today because of this new law,” says Lucas Rhoads, an attorney with the Pollinator Initiative at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “California joins nine other states that have curbed neonic pollution in the places where people live and play, taking steps to safeguard the communities and species most vulnerable to these dangerous pesticides.”
Neonics are neurotoxins, meaning they affect sensitive regions of the human brain and central nervous system and even pass from mother to fetus. Health experts warn that like lead, mercury, and other neurotoxins, there may be no safe level of neonic exposure, yet a recent study found the pesticides in over 95% of pregnant women tested in California and four other states. AB 363 will reduce public exposure to these dangerous toxins by eliminating commonly used “over the counter” lawn and garden neonic products, restricting their use to trained professionals. The bill also requires DPR to evaluate the impacts of those remaining lawn and garden uses—which has been delayed since 2009.
“California is taking the sting out of an increasingly toxic environment for bees.” said Laura Deehan, State Director for Environment California “Taking these pesticides off the shelves is a critical step to saving the bees. We can now promise our pollinators, which play such a critical role in the state of our ecosystems, from the coast to the mountains, a safer golden state. We’re thrilled that one in four Americans will now live in a state that has taken this action to help save the bees.”
While DPR recently completed a reevaluation of agricultural uses of neonics, it neglected to address non-agricultural uses happening right in many Californians’ backyards, which contribute to contamination of the state’s urban and suburban waters. For this reason, AB 363 will now require DPR to perform a more rigorous review of remaining neonic uses and provide additional mitigation where needed. This review will provide California with the information necessary to face head on the threats posed to the health of 1,600 native bee species, the state’s diverse ecosystems, and Californians.
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