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Bee-killing pesticide contaminating Prairie wetlands

CBC reports, “A University of Saskatchewan biologist says many wetlands across the Prairies are being contaminated by a relatively new pesticide that is threatening the ecosystem. Christy Morrissey says that over the past few years neonicotinoids have been used increasingly on crops in Western Canada and the chemical is making its way into wetlands, potentially having a devastating ‘domino effect’ on insects and the birds that rely on them.”

“Most alarming, she said, is that the chemical was detected in the water before farmers planted in the spring. Morrissey said her research shows neonics are persisting in the water for months and in some cases years.”

“(Neonicotinoids are) used on a wide variety of crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, barley, potatoes and fruit. In Western Canada, neonics are most commonly found on canola. Virtually all of the 8.5 million hectares of canola planted in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta are now treated with them.”

“The companies that manufacture neonicotinoids, Bayer CropScience and Syngenta, say their products have been rigorously tested and were found to be safe before they were introduced into the market. CropLife Canada is an industry group that speaks on behalf of those companies. It said there’s no reason to believe that neonics persist in water over long periods of time.”

“In April of last year the European Union placed a two-year trial ban on the chemical because of complaints from beekeepers about dramatically declining populations, and scientific evidence that may show neonics are partly to blame. CropLife Canada said the ban was a reaction to overheated rhetoric.”

“Unlike Europe, the Canadian government said in an email to CBC ‘we do not feel a suspension is warranted at this time’. However, Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Authority has publicly raised concerns about the pesticide, and its possible effect on bees in the corn-growing regions of Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba. And so Ottawa is now publicly consulting on new proposed standards for safer planting practices and enhanced warning labels on soybean and corn seed treated with the pesticide. It is also conducting a detailed scientific re-evaluation of the effects of neonics on bees, which will be released this year.”

Further reading
Save Ontario’s Bees: Ban the Use of Neonicotinoid Pesticides

EU bans bee-killing pesticide, will Harper do the same?