Advocates Defend ‘the Birds and the Bees’ with Nation-Leading Legislation

A coalition of organizations flocked to Albany to rein in toxic neonic pesticides.

Albany, NY — A coalition of environmental, health, garden, and farm groups held a lobby day at the Capitol to advocate for the Birds and Bees Protection Act (S01856/A03226), a first-in-the-nation bill that would rein in the use of neonicotinoid pesticides (“neonics”). Neonics are linked to massive bee and bird losses that impact food production, contaminate New York water and soil, and create human health concerns.

The newly reintroduced bill is similar to last year’s version that passed in the state Assembly (103-41), but ran out of time on the Senate floor when the legislative session ended in June. The bill prohibits 80-90% of the neonic use that pollutes New York’s environment; and applies to neonic-coated corn and soybean seeds, as well as neonic lawn and garden uses. The bill targets the uses of neonics that Cornell University research identifies as providing no economic benefits to users or that are easily replaced with safer, effective alternatives.

The organizations that participated in lobby day include NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), Sierra Club - Atlantic Chapter, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY), Environmental Advocates of New York, Clean + Healthy, Riverkeeper, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Audubon NY, Physicians for Social Responsibility - NY, Earthjustice, Pollinator Pathway, and Bedford, Rochester, and Fort Orange Garden Clubs.

“The Birds and the Bees Protection Act would be the first in the nation to limit neonic coated seeds, which penetrate the soil and leach out into waterways,” said Dan Raichel, Acting Director of NRDC’s Pollinator Initiative. “We’ve long known neonics kill bees, but we now see links between neonics and mass losses of birds, the collapse of fisheries, developmental risks in people, and vast water contamination in New York. The eye-opening realization from an in-depth Cornell University research is that nearly all of the most harmful neonic uses in New York are easily replaced with safer alternatives.”

"S.1856/A.3226 provides a science-based, commonsense approach to curtailing harmful neonic usage in New York State," said Caitlin Ferrante, Conservation Program Manager, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. "This bill targets the uses of neonicotinoids that have been shown by Cornell University to provide no net benefit in crop yield, while also recognizing the need for a phase-in period to ensure seed availability for farmers. We are grateful to Senator Hoylman-Sigal and Assemblymember Glick for championing this important legislation and look forward to working with them to ensure passage of the bill this year in both houses."

“Neonics not only threaten our pollinators, but also contaminate our entire environment,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “From Long Island to the Great Lakes, neonics are contaminating our water resources and are often found at high levels in surface and drinking water resources. By eliminating the most unnecessary and dangerous uses of this pesticide, we can protect our pollinators, water quality, health, and environment. We cannot afford to wait any longer to ban these toxic pesticides.”

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 and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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