Garden-On Committee News – November 10, 2020

From Carole Howe, Garden-On Committee Native Plant co-chair:

Neonicotinoids: “The Insect Apocalypse is Now, and Extinction is Forever.” (Northeast Organic Farming Associaion, NOFA)

This morning I went to Jed’s Hardware to research garden hoses for UUCW Garden-On Committee. There, I bought some daffodil bulbs. (I know they are not native, but, I love daffodils!) As usual, I asked if they are neonicotinoid-free. The young clerk replied, “I don’t know and honestly I don’t know what that is!” Taking the opportunity of this teaching moment, I explain that it is a toxin put in plants; it becomes systemic, travels to the pollen and nectar, kills our insects and can stay in the soil for several years retaining its toxicity. She thanked me for the information as her eyes glazed over.

I bought my daffodil bulbs because they are from Holland and the EU has banned the use of neonicotinoids. The daffodils are safe for my insect pollinators.

Like most folks, I haven’t always been able to plant safe plants or bulbs in my garden. Trying to amend the soil and plant some natives this spring, I found an old plant tag buried in the soil and when I cleaned it off I was shocked to read “This plant has been protected from aphids, white flies, beetles and mealy bugs and other unwanted pests by Neonicotinoids” as if that was something to be desired!  “These pesticides are approved by the EPA.”

More than ten years ago, I learned that neonics are responsible for the death of pollinators; without pollinators, no food can grow. Neonicotinoids are not choosy—they kill both harmful and beneficial insects by attacking the nervous system. Wanting to avoid neonics, I began to ask at every nursery I frequented if they sold Neonicotinoid-free plants. No one knew what I was talking about.

However, we are making progress! I don’t find that kind of tag on any plant I buy now, but there is much to do. Linda Morse shared this plea from NOFA.

Dearest friends of the pollinators,The Mass. state legislature is now considering which non-COVID bills it will take up before the session ends. This means that we have one more chance to ban consumer use pollinator-killing neonic pesticides before the 2-year session ends in December. Collectively we have generated many thousands of emails and calls to state legislators, resulting in broad bipartisan support, but they need to know this is still important to us now.

The Mass. Pollinator Protection Act (H.763) would ban consumer use of neonics and promote pollinator habitat. The bill has the support of over 75% of the legislature and is supported by the Baker Administration’s own recent literature review which confirmed that neonics are a significant contributor to pollinator decline.

Contact your legislators and ask them to “Pass the Mass. Pollinator Protection Act, this session!”

The insect apocalypse is now, and extinction is forever. As we’ve seen with this pandemic, our food system is already vulnerable. We must protect ALL pollinators in order to protect the food security of our Commonwealth.

Pollinators can’t wait another 2 years for the next state legislative cycle, and we know that we can’t rely on the federal government. 
The  EPA has massively expanded use of sulfoxaflor, a new neonic, despite a court order banning these uses…….

Read the NOFA post on their Facebook page:

If you’re buying bulbs this fall, or plants next spring, consider our pollinators!