California residents could be banned from using pesticides that may harm bees and farmers are not happy

Josue Torres
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Under proposed regulations from the state’s pesticide department, commonly used pesticides that are harmful to bees and songbirds would be subject to extensive limitations in California.

The proposed restrictions would be among the most stringent in the country for the use of neonicotinoids in agriculture, a family of pesticides used to fight pests that harm plants like aphids. Bees, birds, and other animals have been found to be harmed by very strong insecticides.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s proposed regulations would limit four neonicotinoid substances that are closely related: imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin, and dinotefuran. These restrictions are intended to safeguard bees that pollinate crops.

Depending on the particular chemical, the crop, and, in certain situations, the existence of honeybees or other pollinators, the laws would restrict when and how much might be administered.

Pesticide authorities in California are currently evaluating public remarks, and there is no set deadline for completing the plan.

The most widely used pesticides worldwide are neonicotinoids, but not in California, according to the state pesticide regulator.

California’s reevaluation of neonicotinoids, which had been delayed for more than ten years, started in 2009 when the government received a study from pesticide producer Bayer CropScience that showed possible hazardous effects of imidacloprid on pollinators. 

Several deadlines were established in 2014 by a statute for reassessing the dangers and implementing any management measures necessary to safeguard pollinator health.

The use of neonicotinoids in houses, yards, and other outdoor, non-agricultural settings would also be prohibited beginning in 2024 under a measure currently before the Legislature. 

Many consumer goods, like the imidacloprid-containing BioAdvanced All-in-One Rose and Flower Care Liquid Concentrate, are approved for usage in California.

According to a study by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, if adopted, California’s plan to limit agricultural usage may seriously affect when and how neonicotinoid products can be used in the country’s top agricultural state.

According to California officials, the regulation would result in a 45 percent decrease in the amount of neonicotinoids used on plants and soil. Neonicotinoids are widely used to coat seeds, hence doing so would not be prohibited.

The limits, which were first announced in February, are causing concern among Californian farmers because they may limit their ability to safeguard crops and may eventually have negative effects on pollinators.

A number of important crops, including almonds, cherries, citrus, cotton, grapes, strawberries, tomatoes, and walnuts, are anticipated to be adversely impacted by the limitations. These crops account for around half of the state’s agricultural exports and two-thirds of the neonicotinoid-treated land between 2017 and 2019. 

The California agricultural agency issued a warning in its investigation that certain replacement pesticides would be more hazardous to bugs’ natural foes, aggravating infestations.

The rule has a few exclusions that permit neonicotinoids to be used against exotic pests like the Asian citrus psyllid, which disperses citrus greening disease.

Despite the fact that the California Agriculture Department does not foresee any crop losses, its experts do predict an increase in expenses due to the cost of substitute pesticides.

The California Agriculture Department estimates that the eight severely impacted crops generated roughly $19 billion in income in 2019. The expenditures to the growers would have ranged from $13.3 million in 2017 to $12.1 million in 2019 if the laws had been in effect.

Environmentalists have also expressed worry over the proposal’s primary focus on lowering danger to meticulously maintained honeybee colonies rather than the country’s native bee species and other pollinators.

Although their evaluation focused on the hazards to honeybees, state authorities insisted that the regulations would also benefit wild bees.

The proposal restricts neonicotinoid application to plants and soil during bee-attractive crop flowering times and places a seasonal application cap. Additionally, it creates crop-specific limitations on application rates and timing that only take effect when honeybee colonies or other controlled pollinators are present on the field for crops that are somewhat attractive to bees.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to triage the measure in August when it selects which legislation will go into effect.

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