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Long Island environmentalists renew calls for the Birds and Bees Protection Act

Honey bees at an apiary in Sagaponak, New York
J.D. Allen
Honey bees at an apiary in Sagaponak, New York

Long Island environmentalists want residents to know some Thanksgiving favorites are made possible by bees!

A group gathered outside New York Gov. Kathy Hochul's office on Wednesday, calling for a law to cut down on the use of neonicotinoids — toxic pesticides that are harmful to pollinators.

"Neonics" for short, are insecticides used on crops, lawns and gardens. They are connected to the state's mass loss of bees, which are critical to the state’s agriculture industry.

New York beekeepers say they’re losing 45% of their hives every year.

“Bees are extremely important in pollinating our food crops," said Adrienne Esposito with the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "In fact, 75% of all our food happens because bees will pollinate those crops.”

Bees are not the only species being harmed.

“Birds feel the impact from neonics when they eat seeds coated with the chemicals, or when important insects are wiped out by pollution," said Hardy Kern with the American Bird Conservancy.

The Birds and Bees Protection Act would eliminate 80-90% of neonics that enter the environment a year. It has been on Gov. Hochul's desk since June. She has until the end of December to sign it.

"Governor Hochul has been handed the nation’s strongest bill for protecting communities and wildlife from toxic neonics, and we urge her to sign it," said Jason Davidson with Friends of the Earth. "New York legislators prioritized the health of people, pollinators and the environment – something EPA has refused to do."

If passed, New York would be among the first in the nation to address this issue.

"Our message to the governor is we don’t want half the pie, we want the whole thing," Esposito said. "We need the bill to pass without weakening amendments, and we need to save the bees this year.”

Sabrina is host and producer of WSHU’s daily podcast After All Things. She also produces the climate podcast Higher Ground and other long-form news and music programs at the station. Sabrina spent two years as a WSHU fellow, working as a reporter and assisting with production of The Full Story.