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Panel approves proposed rules for disposal of pesticide-treated crop seeds

Proposed legislation would provide direction to Minnesotans on how to best dispose of seed treated with neonicotinoids. (House Photography file photo)

Pesticide-treated seed sent from Minnesota to Nebraska was used to produce ethanol and led to environmental concerns and adverse health issues for neighbors of a Mead, Neb., ethanol plant.

Proposed legislation would provide direction to Minnesotans on how to best dispose of seed treated with neonicotinoids.

HF766, as amended, would regulate the sale, use and disposal of seed treated with neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides used as a seed treatment for various crops.

Sponsored by Rep. Rick Hansen (DFL-South St. Paul), the bill was approved on a 7-5 party-line vote Monday by the House Agriculture Finance and Policy Committee and referred to the House Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy Committee.

“In the interim, there have been continuing discussions between myself and the Department of [Agriculture] and the Pollution Control Agency,” Hansen said.

The bill would prohibit the use or sale of neonicotinoid-treated seed for food, feed, oil or ethanol production. It would require the Pollution Control Agency to develop and maintain guidance on the proper use and disposal of the treated seed and require the guidance to be posted by anyone selling the seed.

Seed disposal would be prohibited from burial near a drinking water source or any creek, stream, river, lake or other surface water; composting; or incinerating within a home or dwelling.

“Is the law necessary?” said Rep. Paul Anderson (R-Starbuck). “I guess that’s up to the eye of the beholder. But I think farmers have a whole lot more common sense than that and we don’t need this piece of legislation.”

Hansen pointed to the incident in Nebraska for why the proposed legislation is needed.

“The seed that was unused was shipped, and we had testimony last year, shipped from Minnesota to Nebraska along with all the other states around there, and it was used for the production of ethanol,” Hansen said. “So what this bill simply does, as amended, is it says you can’t use it to make ethanol. … Until we pass a law to say you can’t use it for ethanol, you could because there’s not a law there.”

The agency would be required to adopt rules for the disposal of unwanted and unused seed treated with neonicotinoids. It would receive a $175,000 appropriation in fiscal year 2023 and the Agriculture Department would receive a $100,000 appropriation in fiscal year 2023 to publicize the guidance to consumers.

The companion, SF794, is sponsored by Sen. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul) and awaits action by the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Finance and Policy Committee.


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