Denver, Colorado -- State legislators, the First Gentleman, environmental activists, and beekeepers came together testify in support of a bill, HB20-1180, that would take a necessary and first step to protect bees and other pollinators by restricting a harmful class of pesticides called neonicotinoids (or neonics) on the consumer level. Bees have been in decline for decades, and are critical to pollinating many Colorado crops, including Palisade peaches, apples, tomatoes, and the alfalfa that feeds our dairy cows. Scientists point to pesticides like neonics as one of the factors contributing to bee die-offs along with habitat loss, climate change, and urbanization.
“Bees are a baseline necessity in our food chain, and without them, a lot of crucial things can’t happen. As bees go, so will many of the plants that sustain and enhance our lives,” explained Hannah Collazo, state director of Environment Colorado, “Three other states have restricted neonics, and for the sake of our ecosystems and food supply, Colorado needs to get on board.”
"In Colorado, 80% of crop pollination is from bees. The bottom line is, if we don't have bees, we don't have food," stated Representative Sonya Jaquez Lewis, a prime sponsor of HB20-1180.
HB20-1180 will restrict consumer sale and use of certain neonics and sulfoxaflor in Colorado. This means taking them off the shelves of local garden or large retail stores. Licensed applicators (landscapers, commercial use) and “private applicators” (farmers) will still be able to acquire the pesticides. This legislation would mandate the CDA to put neonics and sulfoxaflor on the Restricted Use Pesticide list by March 1st, 2021, upon conducting their standard review process.
Beth Conrey, the past-president of the Colorado State Beekeepers Association said, “As the finest pollinators on the planet, bees are topnotch representatives of the issues facing all pollinators. Pollinators are integral to our biodiversity; to our quality of life; and to our domestic food supply.”
“Neonics cause harm to more than just our pollinators. They also persist and accumulate in our water and soil for years,” said Sue Anderson, the co-chair of People and Pollinators Action Network.
Environment Colorado, a statewide environment group has collected 22,398 petitions from residents all across Colorado calling for action to restrict these pesticides. They have also gathered support from over 120 small farmers, business owners, beekeepers, and entomologists.
Marlon Reis, Colorado’s First Gentleman, spoke at the conference as well, “Native pollinators are crucial because they provide pollination services for agricultural crops in our communities. Almost 80% of the food we grow depends on these vital pollinators. I appreciate the efforts of Rep. Jaquez Lewis and Rep. Kipp to continue to elevate this important issue that is critical to our way of life.”
Testimony for the bill lasted almost three hours and passed 7-4 on Monday, March 9th. The Farm Bureau took a monitoring position and the Colorado Department of Agriculture is neutral on the bill.