Pollinator plant labeling passes the Minnesota legislature

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

The Minnesota House and Senate have approved a bill designed to protect bees and other pollinators from systemic insecticides in garden plants.

The legislation  says, “A person may not label or advertise an annual plant, bedding plant, or other plant, plant material, or nursery stock as beneficial to pollinators if the annual plant, bedding plant, plant material, or nursery stock has been treated with and has a detectable level of systemic insecticide.”

University of Minnesota bee expert Marla Spivak says the legislation is an important protection for bees and reflects a new consumer demand.

“Nurseries, to stay in business, will have to pay attention to this new and strong consumer demand,” she said.

The bill takes a good step to ensure that nurseries pay attention to insecticide use on flowering plants according to Spivak. With many other legislative initiatives passed this session to help pollinating insects and birds, “it puts Minnesota in the lead nationally,” Spivak said.

Systemic neonicotinoid insecticides are ingested by bees and other pollinators when they gather nectar or pollen from treated plants.  Minnesota research shows the insecticide can confuse bees at low doses and kill them at the higher doses sometimes used on backyard plants.