How will requiring “verification of use” for neonicotinoid pesticides help pollinators?

The Governor’s executive order directs the Commissioner of the MDA to take immediate action to implement the recommendations in the Department’s special registration review. The review includes a recommendation that pesticide applicators follow the pollinator label language present on certain foliarly applied neonicotinoid products.

Neonicotinoids are important products that are needed to control pests and prevent the development of insect resistance. They also may be safer and more beneficial to use than some of the products that would be used in their place.

However, neonicotinoids can have a negative impact on pollinators. Our goal is to work with the ag community to make sure neonicotinoids are used in a manner that minimizes the risk to pollinators while ensuring the products are available when needed.

We hope to achieve this goal by developing more detailed need based guidance on when to use these products in the climate and field conditions we see in Minnesota. We will then work to widely educate and promote those recommendations. Finally we would ensure that a qualified and informed person is involved in deciding when to use the neonicotinoids. These might include many different groups which provide commercial or consulting pest management services and farmers with suitable experience or training.

Good stewardship

This is all good stewardship. Currently, we know that these practices are widely adopted by the Minnesota agricultural community and we want to recognize that stewardship. We want to build on that stewardship ethic by providing additional need based guidance specific to the conditions in Minnesota.

There is a need to fill existing information gaps by developing more detailed Minnesota specific criteria for products that have some related use requirements on the label, by addressing products and uses that don’t currently have related use requirements on the label, and ensuring product users are well informed on the most current science based recommendations. We also need to encourage Integrated Pest Management techniques and plans that are appropriate when neonicotinoids may be used. This recommendation is a major action step and directs a long-term commitment to ensuring these actions will happen.

With better information on when these products should be used and a more formal and deliberate process for deciding when to use them, the end result will be fewer unnecessary pesticide applications and increased attention on following practices that protect pollinators.

Will the MDA have to approve each application of a neonicotinoid pesticide?

No, the verification of need prior to use will be made by an individual who is qualified to make this decision. The MDA will not be directly involved or approve these decisions.

What these qualifications will be and the process that will be followed to verify the need for an application have not been determined yet. This is a recommendation from the MDA but the details will take time to develop and may vary for different products and uses.

Will the verification of need prior to use apply to neonicotinoid treated seeds?

No, the MDA does not have the authority to regulate treated seeds and we do not have specific state guidance on when they should be used. We want to ensure that any state endorsed recommendations or guidance for use of seed treatments are supported by appropriate research. This will not happen quickly. The first step is to have the authority and funding to develop a treated seed program.