New state regulations will limit the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, products that advocates for years have been pushing to restrict as a way to protect bees.
A Monday vote by the state's Pesticide Board Subcommittee recategorized neonic pesticides as restricted-use products, removing them from retail stores and making them only available to licensed pesticide applicators, starting in July 2022.
Martin Dagoberto, policy director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, said the vote "marks an incremental victory which took us six years to land, and it only happened because of immense, ongoing grassroots action and legislative allies who are willing to hold state regulators accountable."
Attorney General Maura Healey and state Rep. Carolyn Dykema, a Holliston Democrat who this year became House chair of the Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee, cheered the move. Dykema's office said that Massachusetts has lost 45 percent of its bee colonies each year on average for the past decade, and that the motion the subcommittee adopted reflected key elements of legislation she has been filing for the last few legislative sessions.
The subcommittee's decision marks the first time that any state pesticide regulatory body in the U.S. has restricted the use of neonic pesticides, according to MASSPIRG.
"Removing these dangerous pesticides from store shelves is an important step forward toward our ultimate goal of significantly curtailing the use of neonics and protecting our bees and other pollinators," MASSPIRG legislative director Deirdre Cummings said. "Without bees, we wouldn't have cranberries, apples, broccoli, coffee beans or even chocolate. We need to protect our bees and our public health as almost all the food we eat has been pollinated by these incredible little insects."