The Eagle-Tribune occasionally publishes editorials that have appeared in other newspapers. This editorial originated with a sister newspaper, The Mankato (Minnesota) Free Press.
Part of the decline of pollinators, including bees, has been tied to the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, which interrupts reproduction and makes bees susceptible to disease.
New research is showing that the pesticide isn’t only harmful to bees, but the pesticide actually attracts bees, addicting them in a way similar to the way nicotine does humans.
The dangers recently led France to ban the pesticide nationwide. Many states and cities have put restrictions on the pesticide’s use, such as banning it from use on public property.
Republican-backed language in the House version of the Farm Bill — Section 9101 — would prevent cities and counties from restricting pesticides beyond federal guidelines.
Several Minnesota communities have banned the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on public property.
Trying to prevent lower levels of government from making decisions has become increasingly popular among Republican leaders, particularly on the state level. Preempting the power of local governments has led to an Arkansas law forbidding municipalities from protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination while other states are looking at preventing cities from raising the minimum wage.
It’s a curious tactic from a political party that usually argues for local control.
Preventing cities from making decisions about pesticide use based on the input of their local constituency is wrong.
Traditionally, it’s been accepted that while local governments can’t ignore laws passed by states or Congress, they can pass more restrictive ordinances in their communities, so long as they don’t violate the Constitution.
In regards to pesticides, the Supreme Court ruled in Wisconsin Public Intervenor v. Mortier in 1991 that the nation’s pesticide registration law, doesn’t preempt local government regulation of pesticide use.
The House bill also has other provisions that would weaken pesticide regulations.
The current five-year Farm Bill expires at the end of this month, and the House and Senate are negotiating over hundreds of differences in the two different versions. The pesticide language in the House bill is being opposed by Democrats. They should hold their ground.
It’s unlikely Congress will agree on a final Farm Bill by the end of the month. But when they do, the bill should not prevent local communities from doing what’s best for their residents.