Protecting pollinators

We have been making some progressive steps toward looking at what we are doing in our gardens and on our farms in order to do our part in protecting pollinators. Recently, there have been some moves by many states, including our own to help protect our pollinators by improving the labels on plant material we would purchase for our gardens.

The following information is from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and is reflecting one of those steps to help protect those important insects that are present in our environments.

“Nursery stock advertised as being beneficial to pollinators must now meet specific requirements according to a new law in Minnesota statute 18H.14. A person may not label or advertise a plant 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 that:

(1) has a pollinator protection box on the label; or

(2) has a pollinator, bee, or honey bee precautionary statement in the environmental hazards section of the insecticide product label. (Complete text is included below.)

Advertising is defined as an effort to bring public attention to promote something. Calling attention to an attribute or a characteristic of a plant would therefore be considered advertising. Any claims about attracting butterflies or other pollinators are considered advertising.

Therefore nurseries should avoid using terms or symbols to indicate that a particular species or variety is attractive or beneficial for pollinators if they have been treated with a systemic insecticide as defined in the statute. Company catalogs that include characteristics of the plant species offered for sale are subject to the provisions of this law.

All insecticides that act systemically and that have a “bee box” or a pollinator, bee or honey bee precautionary statement in the environmental hazards section of the product label are affected by the law. The MDA will coordinate the development of a list of nursery/landscape insecticides potentially affected by the law.

A nursery that advertises plants as beneficial to pollinators (including, for example, the terms “attracts” or “is attractive to” pollinators) will be expected to provide documentation on all insecticides used in the production of those plants. In addition, the MDA may initiate sampling of the plant to determine if there are detectable levels of systemic insecticides.

The MDA intends to enforce this new statute using a phased approach. The initial focus of the MDA will be to inform and educate the nursery industry about the requirements of this new law. We will also begin conducting initial inspections with a focus on non-regulatory compliance assistance, and the possible collection of random samples of plants advertised as pollinator beneficial for the presence of systemic insecticides.

QUESTIONS SHOULD BE EMAILED TO: MDA.Nursery@state.mn.us

18H.14 LABELING AND ADVERTISING OF NURSERY STOCK (e) 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 that: (1) has a pollinator protection box on the label; or (2) has a pollinator, bee, or honey bee precautionary statement in the environmental hazards section of the insecticide product label. The commissioner shall enforce this paragraph as provided in chapter 18J.

For more information on gardening, you can reach me at s.dejaeghere@me.com