Portland Takes Big Step Forward to Protect Pollinators, Birds, Salmon and Children From Dangerous Pesticides

PORTLAND, OREGON — The Portland City Council took a big step forward today in protecting Portland’s wildlife and park users by passing an ordinance to ban the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, and plants treated with neonicotinoid pesticides, on lands owned by the city. The ordinance also encourages retailers within city limits to accurately label plants, seeds and other products that have been treated with neonicotinoid pesticides. Neonicotinoids are persistent and widely used pesticides that are causing well-documented harm to wildlife and in particular bees, birds and butterflies.

Anna's Hummingbird on Red Flowering Currant, photo by Audrey Addison

“These toxicants kill bees outright, so this ordinance is critical to protecting Portland’s burgeoning local foods movement,” said Lisa Arkin, Executive Director of Beyond Toxics. “Bees pollinate over 30 percent of the food we eat and over 70 percent of all flowering plants. Importantly, children using Portland parks will be safer because of this ordinance.”

In enacting this ban, Portland joins Seattle, Spokane and Eugene in banning neonicotinoids. It also joins the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which in 2014 announced a ban on use of neonicotinoids on more than 150 million acres of public land.

“This ban will benefit our pollinators and the entire ecosystem,” said Lori Ann Burd, Environmental Health Director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Neonicotinoids kill the beneficial insects that form the basis of the web of life, like caddisflies and mayflies, which are important food sources for salmon and trout.”

“A single seed treated with neonicotinoids can kill a songbird, and long-term exposure can have sub-lethal effects on birds, such as reduced reproduction,” said Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director for the Bird Alliance of Oregon. “The science regarding the damage that these insecticides do to wildlife is strong and it is time to get them out of our communities.”

Beyond Toxics, the Center for Biological Diversity and Bird Alliance of Oregon worked with the city of Portland to develop the ban and look forward to continuing to work with the city to ensure a successful implementation. The groups will continue to work at the state and federal levels as well as with other local communities to protect pollinators and prevent the threat to ecosystem balance posed by neonicotinoids.

Media Contacts

  • Lisa Arkin, Beyond Toxics | 541-465-8860
  • Lori Ann Burd, Center for Biological Diversity | 971-717-6405
  • Bob Sallinger, Bird Alliance of Oregon | 503-380-9728

Founded in 1902, Bird Alliance of Oregon is one of the oldest conservation organizations in the nation. It promotes the understanding, enjoyment and protection of native birds, other wildlife and their habitats through its conservation and environmental education programs, its 150-acre Nature Sanctuary and Nature Store in northwest Portland, and its Wildlife Care Center.

For more information, call 503-292-6855 or visit birdallianceoregon.org.