For many people issues like climate change, threats to the food supply, increase in the prevalence of invasive species and contagious disease have been thought of as things of science fiction. For those of us who work to research, develop and implement new technologies to combat any and all of those threats, they are already here, or on our doorstep.
That’s why innovation and development have always been a part of farming and the agricultural industry — even before it was an industry. For hundreds of years, scientists and farmers have worked together to breed and develop best practices to maximize crop growth. That innovation is how farming has evolved and crop quality and availability have increased and improved from past generations to what we now buy today at our local farmers market.
That is why it is confounding to me that while we’re living through a moment where science is literally getting the world back on track, that New York lawmakers are looking to ban some types of agricultural innovation that have made a positive impact on a safe food supply.
S.699B is a threat to food security. The legislation, while fashioned to protect pollinators, fails to accomplish that goal, while at the same time threatens farms and food security by eliminating the use of seeds treated with neonicotinoids, a critical tool in protecting the health of seeds at their most vulnerable time.
Treated seeds have been a game changer for farming and crop production. The seeds deliver a precise application that protects them from diseases and pests found in the soil during the early stage of planting.
Because the seeds are planted in the ground, the pesticide product is less exposed, reducing risk of contact with non-target plants, animals and humans, especially applicators. Because of this targeted approach, treated seeds are actually less harmful for the environment than older chemicals that were once widely used.
We as an industry take the stewardship of our land, the environment, and the safety of pollinators extremely seriously. Farms would not exist without pollinators, so it is in all of our interest to protect them, hence the research and development of new ways to protect and increase crops, such as treated seeds.
Additionally, neonicotinoids and treated seed products are highly regulated by the EPA. New York takes that one step further with a robust state review and registration process that farmers across the state must abide by in order to use these products.
I’m proud of the history of our industry and am a strong supporter of the work that’s happened in recent years to help sustain and grow crop yields, as the agriculture community finds itself facing these threats.
New York lawmakers need to listen to the scientists and regulators who have a deep knowledge of these products, their use, and the threats that exist that treated seeds and other modern agricultural technologies mitigate. Legislating science and innovation is a slippery slope, and threatens to stifle progress, the New York agricultural industry and the availability of quality local food. I urge New York lawmakers to reject S.699-B.