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“Neonics — The New DDT” Conference Agenda and Speakers

Neonics: The New DDT
What You Need to Know about the Pesticides Harming Connecticut’s Birds, Bees, Wildlife & People

March 11, 2024
McCook Auditorium 
Trinity College 


Noon Check in/Coffee and sandwiches

12:15 Welcome/Opening Remarks 
Joyce Leiz, Executive Director, The Connecticut Audubon Society

12:30 Neonics and Birds: A Match Made in Hell
E. Hardy Kern III is Director of Government Relations, Pesticides and Birds Campaign, for American Bird Conservancy, an international nonprofit dedicated to conserving birds and their habitats across the Americas. Hardy holds a B.S. in Zoology from The Ohio State University and a Master of Public Administration from Kent State University. At ABC, Hardy focuses on legislative and policy solutions for environmental contamination concerns that impact birds and their habitats. He works at both the federal and state level to build a bridge between stakeholders, legislators, and regulators on matters of pesticides, lead, and the Endangered Species Act. 

1:15 An Overview of Neonics and Associated Problems Including Ecosystem Disruptions and Natural Solutions
John Tooker is Professor and Extension Specialist in the Department of Entomology at The Pennsylvania State University.  His research group studies relationships among plants, invertebrate herbivores, and natural enemies to understand factors that regulate populations of herbivorous insects and slugs. The long-term goal of his research is to exploit ecological interactions for sustainable insect pest management.

2 p.m. Reduction of Neonics: the Québec Experience
Louis Robert was an agronomist and grain crop specialist for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries of the Province of Québec for 35 years; he was fired in January 2019 for having leaked an internal memo to the press about the interference from the pesticide industry and the Farmers Union on research results that showed no benefit to farmers from the use of neonics. He was reinstated later that year after an internal inquiry by the Inspector general and apologies from the Secretary of Agriculture André Lamontagne and Prime Minister François Legault. Retired in March 2022, he works as a consulting agronomist on issues related to soil health, pesticides and fertilizers use, phosphorus losses to waterways, and ethics in agronomic research.

15 Minute Break

Summer azure at the Milford Point Coastal Center’s pollinator garden. Butterflies are among the many pollinators at risk from neonics.

3:00 The Toxic Truth: Emerging Science Linking Neonics to Human Health Harms
Kathleen Nolan, MD, MSL, is a pediatrician, president of the Physicians for Social Responsibility New York Chapter, Senior Research Director at Catskill Mountainkeeper, and cofounder of Concerned Health Professionals of New York.

3:45  Policy Solutions: State Action to Curb Overuse of Neonics
Ann Gadwah is advocacy and outreach coordinator for Sierra Club Connecticut. She will be discussing Senate Bill 109, the current proposal for regulating neonics, now before the General Assembly.

4:10 Panel: Water Contamination, Declines in Biodiversity & Where We Go from Here
Karen Beaulieu is a Biologist in the New England Water Science Center at the United States Geological Survey. Karen’s work entails exploring relations between physical, chemical, and biological data in rivers and streams at both the state and regional levels.

Richard Harris founded Harbor Watch, a water quality monitoring organization in southwest Connecticut, and monitors the water quality in seven harbors for Norm Bloom & Son oyster company.

Victor DeMasi is a lepidopterist and affiliate at the Yale Peabody Museum. 

Dina Brewster owns The Hickories organic farm in Ridgefield, and is the former Executive Director of the Connecticut chapter of the Northeast Organic Farm Association

Burton DeMarche, LIC, LEED AP, President LaurelRock Landscaping.

4:50 Closing Remarks


“Neonics — The New DDT” is organized by the Connecticut Coalition for Pesticide Reform.


Lead organizers: Pollinator Pathway, Rivers Alliance, and the Connecticut Audubon Society.





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