TRENTON, NJ – New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law A2070 (Calabrese)/S1016 (Smith) today, which prohibits most outdoor non-agricultural uses of harmful neonicotinoid pesticides. An outpouring of scientific evidence points to neonics as a leading cause of bee losses; a threat to birds, other wildlife, and human health; and a cause of widespread water contamination.
"This landmark legislation makes New Jersey a national leader in protecting pollinators, wildlife, and people from neonic contamination," said Lucas Rhoads, Staff Attorney at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). "The law relies on the most up-to-date science to ban the largest uses of neonics in the state. This is great news for not just pollinators that are poisoned by neonics, but for all the farmers who depend on insect pollination and for all New Jerseyans that value thriving ecosystems."
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. Rutgers research has found that some of these crops are already “pollinator limited,” meaning a lack of pollinators is already limiting their production.
“We are pleased to see the governor sign the common sense Save the Bees bill into law. In New Jersey honeybees are a $7 million industry and they help pollinate nearly $200 million worth of fruits and vegetables annually. Pesticide companies can’t be allowed to continue to put profits over the health and well-being of our residents and food supply,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director, New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “We thank the Governor and Assemblyman Calabrese, Senator Bateman, and Senator Smith for their leadership on this critical bill.”
Scientific research increasingly identifies neonics as a contributor to mass bird losses, such as the 30% decline in North American birds in the last 50 years. Eating just one neonic-treated seed is enough to kill some songbirds, and even low doses, neonics can harm birds’ immune systems, fertility, and cause rapid weight loss—reducing birds’ chances of surviving in the wild.
"We are excited to see New Jersey pass critical legislation to protect pollinators and other wildlife such as birds," said Drew Tompkins, Director of Policy for NJ Audubon. "Neonicotinoids are unequivocally having significant negative impacts to pollinators, which are vital to our food supply and overall ecosystem. This law takes major steps to restrict much of this dangerous pesticide from entering our environment.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, half the U.S. population is exposed to neonics on a regular basis—a concerning statistic given that studies suggest that neonics may increase risk of developmental or neurological damage in humans, including malformations of the developing heart and brain, memory loss, and finger tremors.
In New Jersey, neonics frequently show up in state surface-water testing at levels that are likely to harm aquatic life. Neonics hollow out ecosystems by eradicating aquatic insect populations that birds, fish, amphibians, and other animals depend upon for food. Diminishing trout and wild bird populations, in turn, threaten New Jersey’s tourism and recreation industries.
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.