This session, I filed, HD2336, An Act Protecting Massachusetts Pollinators, in response to the declining bee population. There is international concern about bee health and “colony collapse disorder” that is resulting in global bee losses with the potential to affect the world’s food supply. An increasing body of research raises concerns that neonicotinoid pesticides may play a role in declining bee health. Europe has placed a 2-year moratorium on use of these pesticides. This bill takes a precautionary approach by limiting use to licensed applicators. Also restricts non-agricultural use during blooming season when pollinators forage.

The official bill text is below:

SECTION 1.  Section 1 of  chapter 132B of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2012 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the definition of  “Agricultural commodity” the following definition:-

“Agricultural use”, the spraying, release, deposit or application of a neonicotinoid on land which is in agricultural use, as defined in section 1 of chapter 61A.

SECTION 2. Said section 1 of said chapter 132B, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting after the definition of “Anti-microbial pesticide”, the following definition:-

“Blooming season,” the period of the calendar year in which blooming or flowering plants are actively blooming, which shall include, at a minimum, the period between March 1 and October 31, provided, that the department may increase this period of time by regulation.

SECTION 3. Said section 1 of said chapter 132B, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting after the definition of “Fungi”, the following definition:-

“Horticultural use”, the spraying, release, deposit or application of a neonicotinoid on land which is in horticultural use, as defined in section 2 of chapter 61A.

SECTION 4. Said section 1 of said chapter 132B, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting after the definition of “Nematode” the following definition:-

“Neonicotinoid,” a pesticide belonging to the neonicotinoid class of chemicals which act selectively on nicotine acetylcholine receptors of organisms, including but not limited to, imidacloprid, acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, nithiazine, nitenpyram, thiacloprid, and thiamethoxam and any other pesticide identified as a neonicotinoid by the United States Environmental Protection Agency or designated as a neonicotinoid by the pesticide board subcommittee, established pursuant to section 3A, in accordance with section 6L. Neonicotinoids are absorbed into plant tissue and can be present in pollen and nectar, making them potentially toxic to pollinators.

SECTION 5. Section 6 of said chapter 132B, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the second paragraph the following paragraph:-

No person shall distribute a neonicotinoid , or any article or substance containing a neonicotinoid, to any person other than a certified commercial applicator, a certified private applicator, or a licensed applicator.

SECTION 6.  Said chapter 132B is hereby further amended by inserting after section 6K the following section:-

Section 6L. (a) Neonicotinoids shall not be sprayed, released, deposited or applied on any property within the commonwealth, except as follows:-

(1)          During the blooming season, neonicotinoids shall be used for agricultural and horticultural uses only.

(2)          A neonicotinoid used during the blooming season for agricultural or horticultural uses shall only be sprayed, released, deposited or applied by certified commercial applicator, certified private applicator or licensed applicator who has received a certificate of training pursuant to the fourth paragraph of section 10

(3)          On any date outside of the blooming season, neonicotinoids shall only be sprayed, released, deposited or applied by a certified commercial applicator, a certified private applicator, or a licensed applicator.

(b) Prior to spraying, releasing, depositing or applying any neonicotinoid in accordance with subsection (a), a certified commercial applicator, certified private applicator or licensed applicator shall provide the owner of the property on which the neonicotinoid is to be so used with: (i)  information on the risks associated with its use, including, but not limited to, its potential effects on the central nervous system of pollinators and non-target organisms and an overview of the effects of neonicotinoids on honeybees; (ii) a list of alternative non-neonicotinoid products; and (iii) an acknowledgment signifying that the owner has received and understands this information. The informational materials, list and acknowledgement required by this subsection shall be in a form prescribed by the department.  This subsection shall not apply to any certified commercial applicator, certified private applicator, or licensed applicator so using a neonicotinoid on property which he or she owns.

(c) No blooming or flowering plant, plant material or seed that has been treated with a neonicotinoid shall be sold within the commonwealth unless it is clearly and conspicuously labeled as having been treated with a neonicotinoid and includes a brief description of the risks to pollinators and other non-target organisms associated with the use of neonicotinoids.

(d) The pesticide board subcommittee established pursuant to section 3A shall, at least biannually (i) review the use of neonicotinoids within the commonwealth, (ii) research the development of any new or previously misunderstood pesticides which may be properly designated as neonicotinoids, and (iii) recommend ways to further limit the use of neonicotinoids.  Said subcommittee shall publish, at least annually, a list of any pesticides designated as neonicotinoids.

SECTION 7. Section 10 of said chapter 132B, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the third paragraph, the following paragraph:-

The department shall require that any certified commercial applicator, certified private applicator, or licensed applicator who will use neonicotinoids pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection (a) of section 6L satisfactorily completes a training program on the risks associated with the use of neonicotinoids and the proper techniques to use in order to minimize those risks.  Satisfactory completion of the training shall be evidenced by a unique certificate of training, in a form prescribed by the department.

SECTION 8. Section 14 of said chapter 132B, as appearing in the 2010 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “inclusive”, in line 9, the following words:- ,section 6L.

SECTION 9. The department of agricultural resources shall work with The Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment at University of Massachusetts in Amherst in order to develop the training program required by section 4 on or before January 1, 2015.  Such training program may, if practicable, include the attendance of any existing courses, programs or initiatives at said center.

SECTION 6. The department shall develop the informational materials, list of alternative products and acknowledgement form required by section 6 on or before March 1, 2015.

SECTION 7. Section 8 of this act shall take effect on January 1, 2016. No penalties shall be assessed for a violation of the provisions of this act prior to such date.

  • Steve

    Really nice work with this bill. I’m glad to see the labeling on plants and seeds sold. That’s a huge problem as most commercial nurseries are using neonics and selling these to retail outlets without labels. There really is nothing that neonics are used for right now that can’t be controlled in more sustainable ways. The most damage that is being done right now is to our native bee species, such as the bumblebee.

  • dfillingham

    I am very supportive of your efforts. I am a member of friends of bees and also the Xerces Society (www.xerces.org) a group that defends invertebrates like bees, butterflies, and dragonflies. We have a lot of info in the form of summaries of current related research, suggestions for legislation, etc. You have taken a big step. There are other steps to be taken on neonicotineoids and related threats to pollinators and birds.