Students Working to Replace Neonics

By Sonia, Keira, Ezra, Abbey, and Griffin, Friends School of Minnesota students

Bees are some of the most important pollinators in our community. They pollinate a large majority of crops that we use in day-to-day life and that we would find it difficult to live without. Pollinators are responsible for at least one third of the food on your plate at dinner. They play a vital role in ecosystems, keeping plant populations diverse and healthy, and ­indirectly affecting every creature that eats plants, including humans. 

While bees are fundamentally important to agricultural crops such as beans and cotton, they are experiencing drastic population decline, and one of the major contributing factors is a class of chemicals used in agriculture: neonicotinoids. They are deadly to many native pollinators, and they contribute to colony collapse disorder, which is deadly to bees. Neonics are persistent: they only need to be sprayed once to stay in the plant’s system for its entire life, and they are even passed on to its offspring. Scientists are studying the effects of neonics and recent findings suggest these pesticides are significantly affecting our native pollinators as well as other nonpest insects.

Currently in Minnesota, there is no legislation in front of the State Legislature to further regulate neonics. Last year, it was debated whether or not to include pollinator protection legislation in an agriculture bill. Two student groups from our school have come together to work on this issue: the Environmental Action Club (EAC) and the Student Committee Affirming Quaker Values (SCAQV). Last year, we went to the Minnesota Capitol to lobby for this bee protection legislation. Before going, we collected over 900 signatures supporting stricter control of neonics and brought them to the State Capitol. We also educated our school community about bee population decline and organized participation in the March for Science. 

This year, we have attended a few meetings of the Governor's Committee on Pollinator Protection. It’s clear the committee’s members—and 87 percent of Minnesotans—care about pollinator decline. Everyone wants a solution, but they can’t seem to agree on the best one. Some say that if we remove neonics, we will create a new pest control to replace it. Others argue that while that may be true, we can’t just pull neonics from under the feet of farmers without a replacement already available. We are working to educate ourselves on the best possible solution. We would like to see other participants in these meetings, other schools, ­other Minnesotans. 

We encourage Minnesotans and the wider world to attend these meetings. Educate yourselves and others. Use your voices to stand up for pollinators. Something has to be done, and we are asking for Minnesota’s help, your help, so that we can be a larger voice for change. 

We need to work with our legislators, to tell them what we want and why. While the path forward is not completely clear, we remain committed to supporting our world and its pollinators. We are the most powerful force for change. 

Our policy on neonic pesticides

Friends School Plant Sale is committed to doing everything we can to bring you plants grown without the systemic pesticides called neonicotinoids. Until neonics are banned, we will continue to ask about neonic exposure in the plants that we order, particularly new plants from new growers, and to refuse to sell any plant we have concerns about. 
Because neonics stay in plants and soil over time and the nursery business and growing practices are complex, we cannot absolutely guarantee that every plant at the sale is free of neonics. We can, ­however, guarantee that we have done the ­necessary background research, and that we will never knowingly sell you a plant that has been neonic-exposed. 



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