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Originally published October 12 2014

Tucson considers banning neonicotinoid pesticides to save bees and environment

by Julie Wilson staff writer

(NaturalNews) Yet another city is contemplating whether or not to ban an insecticide that is likely causing adverse environmental effects by negatively impacting ecosystems. City leaders in Tucson, Arizona, are preparing to be asked to ban nicotine-based insecticides, a chemical which many scientists allege is contributing to the decline in honeybee populations, according to a report by Tucson News Now.

If instated, Tucson would be the third city to ban, or restrict, the use of pesticides chemically similar to nicotine. Spokane, Washington, and Eugene, Oregon, both voted to ban use of the chemical on city property earlier this year, citing concerns regarding the product's toxic effect on pollinator insects.

A few months ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced plans to eliminate the use of neonicotinoid insecticides for growing crops used to feed wildlife on federal refuge lands. Usage is expected to be phased out by 2016 for Region 1, which includes Pacific Northwest areas.

Trending nicotine-based pesticide bans spread to Arizona

The European Union also voted to ban neonicotinoids last year in an effort to protect and save honeybees.

Awareness regarding this issue has now spread to Arizona, with the Landscape Advisory Committee discussing their concerns with the Tucson Parks and Recreation Commission, asking it for support.

"If the bees go, then a lot of our saguaros and cacti will not get pollinated," said Irene Ogata, an Urban Landscape Manager with the city of Tucson's Integrated Planning Department. "And even our wildflowers and food sources."

Even though the Parks Department doesn't use nicotine-based pesticides and doesn't intend to in the future, the Landscape committee still believes that it would be beneficial to get the ball rolling in terms of awareness.

The potential ban will only go into effect on city property, officials say

If the Parks Department implements a ban, it could "set the tone of supporting a certain action and being vigilant," said commission chair Caroline Grey-Ganz.

That tone would encourage educating the public to pay attention, reports say. "We're just kind of looking to see if it may be at least wise to be cautious, examining whether neonics should be on our radar," said Ogata.

A ban would not affect private residential uses but only apply to city property. "Not commercial property, not residential property," she added. "Just on city property first."

The potential nicotine-containing pesticide ban is still in the early stages, with upcoming meetings set to occur in October. Landscape Advisory Committee members say they are still in the information gathering stage, attempting to learn more about how the insecticide affects the bees.

The goal of their current phase is to discuss with and educate the public regarding the issue, spreading awareness before the problem becomes critical.

While some are skeptical that the ban will materialize, others say they expect it to move forward, according to reports.

Neonicotinoids are a class of neuroactive insecticides similar to nicotine that kill a broad range of pests and are used on a global scale. The frequency with which they are used has nearly doubled over the past two years, particularly in agriculturally dense regions that yield vast amounts of food.

Not only is this group of chemicals detrimental to bees, but they've been linked to declining bird populations, disrupting aquatic life and killing other pollinating insects, as reported by Natural News.

"Neonicotinoid insecticides are receiving increased attention by scientists as we explore the possible links between pesticides, nutrition, infectious disease, and other stress factors in the environment possibly associated with honeybee dieoffs," said USGS scientist Kathryn Kuivila.


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