The New Jersey Assembly passed legislation A2070 (Calabrese)/S1016 (Smith) on Monday January 10,2022, to classify bee-killing neonicotinoids, also known as neonics, as restricted use pesticides. The law prohibits most outdoor non-agricultural uses of harmful neonicotinoid pesticides.

In New Jersey, beekeepers have lost more than 40% of their bee colonies nearly every year for the last decade—suggesting possible similar catastrophic losses for the state’s 300+ native bee species. These losses threaten both the state’s ecosystems and many of New Jersey’s most valuable crops, including blueberries, apples, and cherries, which are highly dependent on insect pollination. In New Jersey honeybees are a $7 million industry and they help pollinate nearly $200 million worth of fruits and vegetables annually.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) found in a 2020 study that most neonic use comes from lawn treatments for insect pests. Certified applicators, including landscapers, applied nearly 30,000 pounds of neonics to New Jersey lawns in 2016. For its 2020 study on neonics, the DEP collected more than 250 samples of surface water and groundwater at 123 sites throughout the state. They found neonics in more than half the water samples and neonic concentrations in most samples are above federal benchmarks for harm to wildlife.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed the measure on January 18,2022, making New Jersey the sixth state to adopt this type of save-the-bees policy, making it one of the strongest in the nation. New Jersey’s law would go farther, taking neonics out of lawn care businesses and off store shelves.

NOFA-NJ believes the law is critical for our members as organic farmers, but also in protecting New Jersey’s heavily pollinator-dependent agricultural community as whole.

NOFA-NJ joined other environmental groups National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), NJ League of Conservation Voters, NJ Audubon, NJ Beekeepers Association and NJ Conservation in taking the lead on this important legislation.

Author: Devin