This week, Oregon may join Washington in backing away from a proposal to protect bees by restricting certain pesticides.
An Oregon legislative panel is set to amend a measure Tuesday that would instead create a task force to study the possibility of future restrictions.
Last summer, misapplied pesticides were blamed for the deaths of an estimated 50,000 bumblebees in suburban Portland. Democratic state Representative Jeff Reardon introduced a measure that would have banned the use of four types of pesticides except by trained professionals.
The products are now available at many home improvement stores. But Reardon says he’s changing the bill because there wasn’t the political support for such restrictions.
“We’re taking a little more cautious approach,” says Reardon. “What’s going to work here in Oregon to balance out the needs for pesticides and the need to protect the pollinators.”
Reardon says the task force could recommend legislation for next year’s full-length legislative session.
In Washington state, the Department of Agriculture denied a petition last year to limit the use of pesticides potentially harmful to bees. The agency cited a lack of hard evidence linking the chemicals to bee die-offs.