New Jersey lawmakers could soon reclassify and restrict the use of a powerful insecticide that’s commonly used on golf courses and lawns across the Garden State but is linked to the dramatic decline of the bee population.

Bees help pollinate flowers and are necessary for growing fruits and vegetables.

And the chemical is also being ingested by humans.

Neonicotinoid pesticides, commonly called neonics, would become restricted use pesticides under a measure that’s been released by the Senate Environment and Energy committee.

A restricted-use pesticide can be purchased and used by a certified and licensed pesticide applicator, or people working under the direct supervision of the certified and licensed pesticide applicator.

Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, said there is great concern about neonics because this type of pesticide winds up “killing insects, but also killing a tremendous number of bees across the state, in addition to ending up in our drinking water sources.”

He said this type of chemical is an ecological hazard for our waterways, saying that neonics are found in 43% in the samples of surface waters in the state.

O’Malley explained when a neonics pesticide is applied, most of it seeps into the soil, so countries across Europe are starting to prohibit its use.

“We obviously would want to move toward a complete ban, but this is a strong first step,” he said.

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The measure also specifies that the environmental commissioner, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture, would be permitted to allow the use of the pesticide in situations involving an environmental emergency, if no other less harmful pesticide or pest management practice would be effective in addressing the environmental emergency.

The New Jersey Sierra Club has also taken a strong stand on neonics.

“Instead of restricting the use of these harmful pesticides, we should be banning them," the groups said. "New Jersey needs to phase out neonicotinoids, especially imidacloprid, as quickly as we can. This is especially important because of [President Donald] Trump’s rollback to the federal neonicotinoid ban two years ago. These insecticides are not only harmful to human health, but are destroying our bee population who are critical to our ecosystem and food supply.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com