The Attorney General (AG) of the State of Massachusetts has succeeded, for what is believed to be the first time, in getting a pesticide giant to change they way they communicate with the public about pesticide risks to the environment. As this press release describes how the state accused Bayer of misleading consumers about the dangers posed to bees and other pollinators by products containing neonicotinoid insecticides.
In an investigation that started in 2013, the AG’s office found that in advertising for their lawn and garden care products, Bayer violated the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act by making what they call “deceptive and misleading claims” that applying these pesticides was like giving plants a “daily vitamin.” In reality, scientists have identified multiple negative impacts from these pesticides to pollinators and the environment.
About one-third of the American depends on pollinators, and the majority of this role is filled by honeybees. The neonicotinoids that this legal action was focused on have long been thought to play an important role in the recent declines of honey bees, including outbreaks of Colony Collapse Disorder. As we point out in this Hot Science post, there is much we still need to learn about these powerful pesticides, which have quickly become the most widely applied insecticide in the world. Also see this blog post for additional discussion; with new science emerging just this month expect to hear more on this topic soon!
Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General, Press Release: “AG Takes Action Against Bayer Over Deceptive Marketing About Risks of Pesticides,” October 26, 2016.