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Oregon Bill to Restrict Bee-Killing Pesticides Gutted

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Legislation in Oregon that would have banned the use of four neonicotinoid pesticides for home and garden uses has been severely gutted, following push back from agricultural and nursery interests. The legislative panel will instead propose creating a much weaker requirement to set up a task force that will only examine the possibility of future restrictions.

The original bill language would have added neonicotinoid pesticides dinotefuran, imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam to Oregon’s list of restricted pesticides, which can only be applied by licensed pesticide applicators. However, the bill has now been drastically amended after consultation with scientists, nursery and agriculture interests, and environmental groups, said bill sponsor Representative Jeff Reardon (D-Portland) to the House committee.

“The Oregon Legislature should be ashamed of itself for its failure to act on the face of this clear ecological crisis,” said beekeeper and activist Tom Theobald. “The change to restricted use was a step in the right direction, a small step, but a step,” he continued, voicing his disappointment.

The original bill, HB4139, was introduced by Rep. Reardon earlier this year in response to several bee-kill incidents in Oregon last summer, including one that killed more than 50,000 bumblebees after a licensed pesticide applicator sprayed blooming linden trees, a violation of the pesticide label. After a preliminary investigation, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) confirmed that the massive bee die-off was caused by the use of the insecticide dinotefuran. But the incident only resulted in a small fine of under $3,000, just 6 cents per bee, infuriating beekeepers, environmentalists, and advocates, but spurring legislative action.