Minnesota Task Force Looks at Ways to Protect the State’s Bees

Josephine Marcotty reported recently at the Minneapolis Star Tribune Online that, “After two years of sometimes fractious discussion, a task force charged with finding ways to protect the state’s bees and butterflies is proposing dozens of ideas to make Minnesota’s landscape more hospitable to pollinators.

“Chief among them: programs to add more clover and other flowers to lawns and farm fields, and tightening up on the wide use of the insecticide that carries much of the blame for their declining numbers.

“The task force, appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton, will present its findings to the state Environmental Quality Board, which is made up of the heads of key state agencies. The report is likely to result in proposals at the 2019 Legislature to create and fund some of the suggested programs.”

The article noted that, “The detailed, 60-page report also revealed a clear dividing line between the committee members who represented agriculture and those who represented environmental and conservation groups on the issues of insecticide use and regulation. While there was broad support for more education and improved habitat for pollinators, committee members were unable to reach consensus on ways to reduce insects’ exposure to neonicotinoids, the widely used class of insecticides that has proved to be one of the culprits in the pollinators’ decline. Instead, the report tallied the votes on each proposal and noted how each committee member voted.”

The Star Tribune article added that, “Dayton appointed the 15-member committee in 2016 in an effort to find common ground among disparate interests on how to protect bees and rapidly declining populations of wild pollinators.

“It included representatives from Syngenta, one of the leading manufacturers of neonicotinoid products; farmers from the state’s largest commodity groups; the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a nonprofit; two U scientists; a beekeeper; educators; and a representative from the Pesticide Action Network, an environmental advocacy group.”

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