L&C Professor Study Highlights Importance of State Legislation to Protect Insect Pollinators

Article by: Louise Jett, L&C Media Services,

GODFREY – Lewis and Clark Community College Physical and Environmental Science Adjunct Professor Rebecca Steiner recently co-authored a study cataloging state-level legislation that addresses insect pollinator protection, to help addresses the worldwide “insect pollinator health crisis.”

“Insect pollinators face many threats and protecting them is vital,” Steiner said. “Because there is an absence of strong U.S. national policy that protects insect pollinators, it is important to examine state level policies that protect insect pollinators.”

In the absence of any sweeping United States national policy addressing insect pollinator conservation, the study aimed to identify state laws that focus on insect pollinator conservation.

“Creating a database of policies provides communities with information and identifies knowledge gaps,” Steiner said. “By doing so, we will be able to address declining pollinator populations and protect insect pollinators like native bees, that are vital to the existence of the majority of plants on earth, including a large majority that provide us with the food we eat.

“Our research highlights the intersection of science, policy, conservation and human interaction and helps provide the connection between scientific data for protecting our insect pollinators to future policies geared towards their protection,” she said.

The resulting peer reviewed article Steiner co-authored is written for those who are working with lawmakers about insect pollinator policies and was published in the scientific journal “Environmental Science and Policy.” The paper showcases areas of agreement useful for international, national, providence/state/territory, and municipal policies.

“We cataloged insect pollinator protection polices by state that were enacted between 2000-2017 because significant decrease in pollinator populations occurred during these years,” Steiner said. “We discovered 109 state-level legislature laws covering apiculture, pesticides, awareness, habitat and research that benefit insect pollinator health. Fourteen states lacked any laws, versus states like California and Minnesota that have at least seven policies, and Vermont has a comprehensive Public Act policy that addresses multiple threats, like habitat loss and exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides, that insect pollinators face.”

She worked with co-author University of Missouri Professor Damon M. Hall, Ph.D. to characterize policy trends and document the spectrum of policy innovations.

The paper, “Insect pollinator conservation policy innovations at subnational levels: Lessons for lawmakers,” can be read online for free. link to article