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Home > Licensing, Inspections, Certifications & Testing > Licensing > Nursery Inspection & Certification Program > Nursery Label/Pollinator Statute Revised

Nursery Label/Pollinator Statute Revised


Adult honey bee with pollen sacs showing. David Cappaert, Michigan State University, bugwood.orgThe “Pollinator Labeling” statute, Minnesota Statute 18H.14, Subd. (e), has been revised.  Plants advertised as being beneficial to pollinators must still meet specific requirements.  Effective July 1, 2015, the law clarifies responsibility for labeling, sample collection, what chemicals are included and detectable level of systemic insecticide.  Revised language is italicized.

A person selling at retail or providing to the end user of plant material 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.) and,

(3) a concentration in its flowers greater than the no observed adverse effect level of a systemic insecticide as established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for  acute oral toxicity for adult honeybees.

  • 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 plant species or variety is attractive or beneficial to pollinators if they have been treated with a systemic insecticide as defined in the statute and anticipate detection of that insecticide above the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) acute oral no- observed-adverse-effect level for honeybees.

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.  Systemic insecticides include those chemicals both absorbed by the plant and translocated, or moved, through the plant’s vascular system.  Insecticides that work through translaminar absorption are not systemic insecticides under this statute.  Translaminar materials are typically applied as foliar sprays, moving into the leaf where the active ingredient remains for a period of time, but not moving through the plant’s vascular system.  

A retail sales location or nursery selling plants to the final purchaser of the plants, that advertises plants as beneficial (including the term attracts) 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 is a concentration in its flowers greater than the no observed adverse effects level established by the USEPA for acute oral toxicity for adult honeybees.

  • The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (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 collecting random samples of plants advertised as pollinator beneficial in order to develop some baseline data regarding the existence or prevalence of systemic insecticides in nursery stock.
  • QUESTIONS SHOULD BE EMAILED TO:  MDA.Nursery@state.mn.us

18H.14 LABELING AND ADVERTISING OF NURSERY STOCK

(e) A person selling at retail or providing to an end user 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:

(1) been treated with systemic insecticide that:

(i) has a pollinator protection box on the label; or
(ii) has a pollinator, bee, or honey bee precautionary statement in the environmental hazards section of the insecticide product label; and

(2) a concentration in its flowers greater than the no observed adverse effect level of a systemic insecticide. The commissioner shall enforce this paragraph as provided in chapter 18J.

(f) For the purposes of paragraph (e):

(1) "systemic insecticide" means an insecticide that is both absorbed by the plant and translocated through the plant's vascular system; and

(2) "no observed adverse effect level" means the level established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency for acute oral toxicity for adult honeybees.