Letter: Scientists must continue to protect the state

Published 9:00 am Sunday, January 15, 2017

Minnesotans should be concerned about the recent news that the invasive plant palmer amaranth was discovered in habitat seed mix in our state. While the reporting about this incident has been good and the efforts to eradicate it have been good, there have been a few points missing.

First, this wouldn’t have happened a few years ago. Minnesota had a law that required habitat seed mixes to come from local ecotype sources. The Republicans repealed this law, paving the way for seed contaminated with invasive species to enter our state. 

Second, Minnesota is leading the nation when it comes to battling invasive species. The legislature created the Terrestrial Invasive Species Center at the University of Minnesota to study and combat this and other species.

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Third, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has the ability to certify seed mixes for pollinators and habitat restoration. We don’t need a change in law to stop this from happening in the future. The state has the power to only allow seeds from Minnesota to be used.

It’s clear that we must continue to use local, Minnesota seeds; fund ongoing research to battle both terrestrial and aquatic invasive species; and that we must support our scientists when it comes to using their power to protect our state.

Habitat restoration for pollinators and native prairies will no doubt continue, we must do it in a responsible way.

Rick Hanson

state representative

South St. Paul