The Situation

The Maryland Pesticide Education Network’s (MPEN) Smart on Pesticides Campaign is a coalition of 74 organizations/businesses with a shared commitment to promote policies and laws to protect our natural systems from the toxic impact of pesticides. Their current focus is passage of nationally ground-breaking legislation in the 2016 Maryland General Assembly restricting the use and sales of pollinator–killing, neonicotinoid (aka neonic) pesticides.

For the past decade, beekeepers around the country have been losing at least 30% of their hives per year. More specifically, neonicotinoid pesticides are confirmed to have played a significant role in the loss of more than 61% of Maryland beehives and over 40% of beehives around the country this past year alone. The decline in beehives is a significant loss as one third of every bite of food depends on bees and other pollinators. No bees – no fruits, vegetables, nuts and honey.

The Roadblock

In 2012, MPEN launched and spearheaded the Smart on Pesticides Campaign (SPC) with major financial support and guidance from an established foundation. This multi-year funding paid for a consulting firm and a lobbyist who provided the expertise needed for promoting passage of nationally cutting-edge legislation in Maryland. In 2014, the foundation provided additional, unrequested funding to create and begin execution on a 5-year work plan with this ‘dream team’ of contracted advisors, recommended to MPEN by the foundation. Throughout 2014 and 2015 MPEN worked with these advisors to tee-up significant legislation for the 2016 Maryland state session. Eight months later in May 2015, MPEN was notified that while the foundation was very pleased with the progress MPEN had made to date, that funding to continue the five-year plan would not be renewed. This loss was completely unexpected and placed the SPC in significant jeopardy of forfeiting legislative gains, given the rapidly approaching 2016 state vote.

Open Road's Response

Open Road provided funding to cover the essential expenses of the contracted experts providing the needed critical resources to build momentum for passage of the Pollinator Protection Act in 2016. The coalition’s collaboration with key Maryland legislators, put it in a position to pass legislation that would be a model for reducing a significant contributor to the alarming decline of the pollinator population in the US and globally.

On May 27, 2016, Maryland became the first state in the country to pass a law restricting all consumer use of neonicotinoid pesticides. The Pollinator Protection Act, which goes into effect January 1, 2018, prohibits the use of neonicotinoid-containing products for outdoor use. The nationally ground-breaking law is an important step to protect pollinators and our food supply.

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