House passes bee-friendly labeling bill

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Nurseries that pass inspections would be allowed to label their plants as not harmful to bees, under a bill passed by the House Tuesday.

Sponsored by Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul), HF2798 would forbid people from labeling plants, plant material or nursery stock as beneficial to pollinators if they have been treated with a detectable level of lethal insecticide. The Department of Agriculture would inspect the plants and enforce the law to make sure plants with bee-friendly labels don’t actually contain harmful insecticides.

“It’s a truth-in-labeling provision,” Hansen said.

The bill, which passed 118-10 and now heads to the Senate where Sen. Kari Dziedzic (DFL-Mpls) is the sponsor, is one of several initiatives that have been heard at the Capitol this year attempting to address the problem of large die-offs of honey bees and other pollinators.

An amendment successfully offered by Hansen would require the department in concert with interested parties to develop a list of pesticides with active ingredients that are lethal to pollinators.

It also would move the effective date from the day following final enactment to Aug. 1, 2014, to give the department and businesses more time to adjust to the law.