The controversy over legislation that would restrict the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in Oregon has been defused, at least for now.
The original version of the bill, HB 4139, would have classified several chemicals as restricted-use pesticides that can be sprayed only by licensed applicators.
The neonicotinoid pesticides — clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam — have been blamed for harming pollinators.
A proposed amendment to the bill removes the restricted-use classification for these chemicals and instead established a “Task Force on Pollinator Health.”
The proposed amendment and bill are being considered by the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The task force would consist of 10 appointed members, including two legislators, a university specialist, a beekeeper, and representatives of the agricultural and environmental communities, among others.
The group would submit a report to the legislature by October 2014 with recommendations for legislation after studying the effectiveness of existing pesticide regulations and issues related to pollinators.
The amendment is intended to balance the needs of pollinators with people who rely on pesticides, said Rep. Jeff Reardon, D-Happy Valley, who sponsored the bill.
Reardon said it’s been a “good accomplishment” getting a group of “stakeholders” together to discuss the issue.
“My goal all along has been to get a conversation started about how we’re going to address this,” he told Capital Press after a Feb. 11 hearing.
The Oregon Farm Bureau opposed the original language of the bill and remains concerned that the revised version directs the task force to propose legislation, rather than leaving that outcome open-ended, said Katie Fast, vice president of public policy for the group.
Jeff Stone, executive director of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, said reason had prevailed in the amended version of the bill.
“Science needs to come forth here,” he said.
The Oregon League of Conservation Voters supported the original bill and the revised version.
The group is interested in the task force idea but is “hanging on” to the idea that more regulation of neonicotinoid pesticides is necessary, said Christy Splitt, its external affairs director.
Several die-offs of pollinators from neonicotinoids occurred when the applicators used the pesticides according to label directions provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, she said.