What a wonderful effort the village of Oak Park is making in support of endangered pollinators, in particular the bumble bee. Hives are now on top of the public works building. Bees need all the help they can get.

Yet they will also be coming in contact with poisons that can counteract these village efforts. Why?

In 1995, the state of Illinois instituted a pre-emptive law which overrules “home rule” powers where pesticide regulation occurs. The village can no longer regulate pesticide use in Oak Park. And one pesticide classification in particular, neonicotinoids, has proven to be a major cause of bee colony collapse.

So how did Oak Park lose its “home rule” power?

In 1991, Chemlawn brought a case against the town of Hudson, Ontario because it instituted a ban on pesticides. The case went all the way up to the Canadian Supreme Court. Chemlawn lost due to the “precautionary principle,” which does not allow a substance to be sold if it is possibly harmful. 

The United States, however, does not follow this guideline. Changing its name to TrueGreen, Chemlawn and other lawn care companies, assisted in implementing these pre-emptions in 43 state laws. That’s right, 43.

And this doesn’t even address other toxic chemicals that we cannot regulate, which impact more than bees — like our health, our children’s health, and the sustainability of our Earth.

Why are the bees so important? Bees pollinate 1/3 of our food supply, the foods especially rich in nutrients and vitamins. Bees and their pollinating skills are the major reason we have a $20 billion U.S. crop industry.

So what action can be taken? Two easy answers:

1) Contact our village trustees and encourage them to vote for a resolution whose purpose is to support the reinstatement of “home rule” by the state General Assembly. We do not want for-profit companies making decisions with little concern for our health and for our one-and-only ecosystem. We want the regulation of all pesticides to be in our hands.

2) Support state Senator Don Harmon’s bill SB2965 banning neonicotinoids throughout the entire state.

For more detailed information: gogreenoakpark.org.

Peggy McGrath 

peggy@gogreenoakpark.org

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