NEW YORK, NY — Today a coalition of environmental, health, and farm groups gathered outside Governor Kathy Hochul’s office to ask her to sign the Birds and Bees Protection Act (S1856-A/A7640), which has been sitting on her desk since June. Governor Hochul has until the end of December to sign this first-in-the-nation legislation that would limit the use of neonicotinoid pesticides (“neonics”), but has not yet done so–all while the chemical industry is pressuring the Governor to veto the bill through lobbying and misinformation.
Long connected to mass losses of bees and other pollinators critical to New York’s agricultural economy and environment, neonics are emerging as likely the most ecologically destructive pesticides since DDT. In May, U.S. EPA made the unprecedented finding that neonic use is likely driving 200+ species toward extinction. The pesticides have also been linked with mass losses of birds, the collapse of aquatic ecosystems, and birth defects in deer. Widespread contaminants in New York’s water resources–and the most frequently detected insecticides in the Long Island aquifer – neonics frequently pollute New Yorker’s bodies too. Recent research also documents near-ubiquitous and steadily rising levels of neonics in NYS pregnant women.
The Birds and Bees Protection Act would eliminate 80-90% of the neonics entering New York’s environment annually by prohibiting only those uses that provide no economic benefits to users or are easily replaced by safer alternatives according to the findings of an extensive 2020 Cornell University report and ongoing statewide field research. Support for the bill is widespread, including recent opinion pieces in The Buffalo News (Buffalo), The Post-Standard (Syracuse), Times Union (Albany), Long Island Press (Long Island), and City Limits (New York City). Over 370 New York farms, businesses, and organizations have called on Gov. Hochul to sign the bill. New York State health professionals have also called on the Governor to sign the bill.
Following are quotes from groups pushing for the Governor to sign the bill.
“The path Governor Hochul takes on the Birds and Bees Protection Act will mark a defining moment for her environmental legacy,” said Dan Raichel, Acting Director of NRDC’s (Natural Resource Defense Council) Pollinator Initiative. “Neonics harm nearly every part our environment—from the water to the soil to public health—and kill bees and other pollinators, driving down crop production. With overwhelming research showing the neonic uses targeted by the bill are simply needless, I’ve never seen a clearer contrast between commonsense protections and chemical company misinformation. With time quickly running out, we hope Governor Hochul chooses science and the interest of New Yorkers over industry spin.”
“Science has shown that neonicotinoids are one of the main causes of an alarming crash in pollinator populations nationwide,” said Caitlin Ferrante, Conservation Program Manager, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. “The Birds and Bees Protection Act is an historic, nation-leading bill that will end the unnecessary use of these toxic pesticides and has been crafted to reflect the concerns raised by ag communities. The Sierra Club strongly urges the Governor to sign this important bill into law, to address the unnecessary use of neonics in treated corn, wheat, and soy seeds, and also in turf and ornamental environments. S1856-A/A7640 reflects key findings of NY’s own Cornell University. The Birds and Bees Protection Act is gearing up to be a defining moment for Governor Hochul’s environmental legacy and we urge her to sign it into law today.”
“Thank you, NYS Senators and Assemblymembers, and especially bill sponsors Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal and Assemblymember Deborah Glick, for your leadership in protecting New York’s pollinators and people from toxic ‘neonic’ pesticides by passing the landmark Birds and Bees Protection Act,” said Bobbi Wilding, Executive Director of Clean+Healthy. “These highly toxic chemicals have no place on seeds, which pull them into every part of the plant. Pollinators suffer, which means crops suffer. These toxics get into people, including pregnant women. We look forward to celebrating Governor Hochul signing this pivotal bill into law. Our state’s children, and our birds and bees, are counting on her.”
“By eliminating unnecessary and harmful chemicals in our treatment of pests, we will help protect New York’s environment, food security, and agricultural economy,” said Andrew Williams, Deputy Director of State Policy for the New York League of Conservation Voters. “It’s time that New York finally takes action to ensure the survival of our essential pollinators and the health of our communities, and that is why NYLCV stands with our partners in urging Governor Hochul to sign the Birds and Bees Protection Act.”
“Birds feel the impact from neonics when they eat seeds coated with the chemicals, or when important insects are wiped out by pollution. The Birds and Bees Protection Act would be a huge step forward in keeping New York’s wildlife safe from the overuse of pesticides,” said Hardy Kern, Director of Government Relations for American Bird Conservancy.
“In passing the Birds and Bees Protection Act, New York legislators prioritized the health of people, pollinators, and the environment – something EPA has refused to do,” said Jason Davidson, Senior Food and Agriculture Campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “Seeds treated with neonicotinoids are largely responsible for making American farmland 48 times more toxic to insects like bees than it was in the 1990s. Governor Hochul has been handed the nation’s strongest bill for protecting communities and wildlife from toxic neonics, and we urge her to sign it.”
“By signing the Birds and Bees Protection Act, Governor Hochul is protecting pregnant women, children, and families in New York, by making sure that they are drinking cleaner water and eating healthier food,” said Dr. Kathleen Nolan, a pediatrician and President of New York’s chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “None of us should consume any nicotine-like compounds, much less high levels of them and it is up to Governor Hochul to make sure that no one is allowed to add such chemicals to our food and drinking water.”
Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment said “New York State is buzzing with support for the Birds and Bees Protection Act! The presence outside the Governor’s office is just a small representation of the vast amount of public support for this nation-leading legislation. It’s time for Governor Hochul to stand up to industry and save the bees by banning unnecessary uses of toxic neonics. The Birds and Bees Protection Act is the most environmentally meaningful bill awaiting the Governor’s signature and we won’t accept a version weakened by amendments. Governor Hochul has an opportunity to build a legacy as an environmental champion by protecting our pollinators.”
“Governor Hochul must sign the Birds and Bees Protection Act in order to protect water quality and wildlife in New York. The science is abundantly clear that the use of these pesticides causes immense damage to the natural world and human health,” said Jeremy Cherson, Senior Manager of Government Affairs for Riverkeeper. “The Governor has an opportunity to demonstrate national leadership by following the science and signing this legislation into law.”
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.