Busy Killing Bees

by Darby on March 15, 2015 - 9:45pm

After recently hearing of the alarming increases in bee deaths and the potential link of these deaths to the use of neonic insecticides, I decided that I needed to explore this issue in greater depth. I had heard of recent initiatives in the province of Ontario to restrict the use of these chemicals. I read an article written by David Suzuki and Faisal Moola, published on Tuesday February 17th 2015 in the Toronto Star entitled “Ontario right to restrict bee-killing insecticide” that is summarized hereafter.

In recent years, bee deaths have been abnormally increasing. This occurrence has been particularly noted in regions of Quebec and Ontario that grow corn.

As a result, Ontario has proposed to restrict neonicotinoid insecticides being used on corn and soybeans. Bees are crucial to the agricultural industry but what is more imperative is protecting our water and soil. These pesticides are contaminating ecosystems globally.  The province of Ontario is taking heat from pesticide industries but they are willing to be the leaders in this revolution nonetheless.

Neonic use began some twenty years ago. These chemicals were originally thought to be better as they are effective at low levels as they are absorbed into the plants themselves which reduces the need for additional spraying. However, this is exactly why they are trouble. Neonics are “toxic even at very low doses and persist in plants and the environment, resulting in continuous exposure”. They are affecting the nervous system of pollinators, preventing them from properly processing information around them.

Corn and soybean crops are majorly protected using these harmful chemicals in Quebec and Ontario. This has contributed to the large number of bee deaths that keeps increasing.

Ontario isn’t the first to try and restrict these chemicals; Europe took the lead last year by restricting their use.

Some are critical of bans on neonics claiming that other factors could just as easily be the cause of pollinator deaths. The fact is that they are right; climate change, habitat loss and disease do all have a part to play as well. However, this does not mean that no relation exists between these issues. The idea here is that reducing the use of neonics can only help the cause; it is a good way to start addressing pollinator health.

It is also important to remember that neonics also pose a threat in more subtle ways to many other species.

Of course there is still uncertainty regarding neonic bans, but the evidence clearly asks that we take precautionary measures to diminish their use.The Ontario government expects to reduce neonic use in corn and soybeans by 80 percent by 2017. They would only be used when necessary on especially pest-vulnerable crops.

For obvious reasons, the pesticide industry is opposing this move.

After reading the article, I then questioned myself as to whether any organizations existed to confront this issue and I found that the David Suzuki Foundation is actively involved in this issue. They fully support the ban of neonic pesticides. You can read more about their position if you follow this link to their website: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/science-matters/2014/07/its-time-to-sav...

If you want to do your part to help the bees, take some of your time to fill out the petition the foundation has on this page: http://action2.davidsuzuki.org/neonics?utm_campaign=SM0704&utm_medium=Bl.... You can send a letter stating your wish to ban neonics to the Canadian government.

If you want to read the original article, you can follow this link: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2015/02/17/ontario-right-to-restrict-bee-killing-insecticide.html.

Comments

Hello Darby!
I think your post is very interesting, and it's great to see that people are getting involved in this kind of issue. There is a volunteering opportunity here, in Canada, to get involved directly in saving honeybees. The Canadian Honey Council (http://www.honeycouncil.ca/about.php) has set up a website and a facebook page so that people interested in helping them in their mission can get involved in a number of ways including sponsorship, campaigning and conferences. You should check it out!

All the best,
Audrey