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Proposed Birds and Bees Protection Act may ban certain pesticides throughout New York

Local Farmers weigh in as proposal reaches Gov. Hochul for a final decision
Posted at 6:18 PM, Jul 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-24 18:31:51-04

SANBORN, N.Y. — A new act recently passed through the state legislature could ban a certain type of pesticides across New York, neonicotinoids.

Farmers in Western New York are all aiming for the same thing, a healthy harvest season. However, they all have different ways to achieve that same goal.

Some local farmers turn to neonicotinoid pesticides which are marketed to be as nontoxic as possible in order to protect both their crops and people.

“These are often used as an insurance policy in case there is a pest infestation,” said Director of Communications, New York Farm Bureau Steve Ammerman.

Both chambers of the New York state legislature have passed the Birds and Bees Protection Act.

This is a first of its kind of act in the country that would ban all neonicotinoid pesticides, citing needs for environmental conservation.

“If farmers don't have these [pesticide] treated seeds available for their use, then they will have to look elsewhere,” Ammerman said. “Typically, that means older, potentially more toxic pesticides, and it will mean more spraying pesticides.”

According to Texas A&M University, these particular insecticides are much more toxic to insects, than they are to humans, due to the way they it attacks their nervous systems.

However, one local farmer worries about the impact these chemicals could have on other insects, specifically bees – an essential pollinator.

“The use of them have impacts on so many things in our environment,” said Aurora Schunk, Owner of Schul Farmstead. “I think if we’re able to do this prevention on a larger scale with larger farms, we can make things better.”

Schunk owns her own one-acre farm in Sanborn, much smaller than a commercial farm, but feels she has found her own ways to protect her plants, pesticide free.

“We create habitat around our growing areas that allow places for birds and other beneficial insects to thrive. If [they’re] in the area, they will come and actually eat the pests.”

I reached out to the environmental protection agency for their take on the future of these pesticides, but they shared the following statement:

"We don’t comment on proposed legislation (which has not been signed into law). EPA has no information to share at this time on this matter.”

Ammerman said these neonicotinoid pesticides were tested by the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and were proven to be the safest option years ago.

“I think it’s important to realize the DEC has a proper and rigorous pesticide review process… [Legislatures], look at these things accordingly and make decisions based on science.”

The bill will now hit the desk of Governor Hochul. She will either sign it into law or veto it.