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

Aljazeera reports, “Sulfoxaflor is a new chemical in the same category as controversial pesticides known as neonicotinoids – which scientific studies have shown contribute to mass bee deaths. …Scientists have linked the drastic declines in honey bees and other pollinators to neonicotinoids, like sulfoxaflor, which the US Environmental Protection Agency has determined to be ‘very highly toxic’ to bees.”

“The disturbing trend of bee deaths, known as Colony Collapse Disorder, has led to mass die-offs of pollinators in recent years and could cause an agricultural disaster. Without pollinators, many fruits and vegetables, such as apples, cucumbers, broccoli, onions and almonds, will also disappear. …There are dozens of neonicotinoid pesticide products, and they are used on approximately 75 percent of all acres planted with food crops –commercial and residential – in the U.S., and on 95 percent of all U.S. corn.”

“Nearly one-third of all honey bee colonies in the U.S. have vanished, the National Resource Defense Council has said. In some areas of the country, more than 50 percent of bees have disappeared. …(In 2012 alone), 37 million bees were found dead in Ontario. One local beekeeper, who lost 600 hives, blamed the heavy use of neonicotinoids on nearby fields where corn had recently been planted.”

The Toronto Star adds, “In Canada, the bee population has dropped by an estimated 35 per cent in the past three years, according to the Canadian Honey Council.”

“Sold by German agricultural science giant Bayer and Switzerland’s Sygenta, neonicotinoids are highly lethal to insects like bees, but far less toxic to mammals and other vertebrates. Corn, soy and canola seeds are coated with the nicotine-related compounds to prevent ground-dwelling insects from damaging them before they grow.”

“In April, responding to the pesticide’s increasing scrutiny as a major factor in bee deaths, the European Union approved a two-year neonicotinoid ban…” Earlier this month, the Council of Canadians joined with the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association and the Friends of Pollinators Action Coalition to call on the Harper government to do the same and ban the use of neonicotinoidal pesticides in Canada.

Other threats to bees

In January, the New York Times reported, “Only 10 years ago, (opponents of the Skouries mine in northern Greece) point out, Greece’s highest court ruled that the amount of environmental damage that mining would do here was not worth the economic gain. …Opponents worry about dust and ground water pollution. (They say that the dust from the mine means) there will be no goats or olives or bees here.”

In March, we noted that Monsanto’s genetically modified alfalfa could be registered for use in Canada soon and that alfalfa is a perennial plant that is pollinated by bees, genetically modified alfalfa will inevitably cross-pollinate with non-GM and organic alfalfa, threatening the livelihoods of family farmers across Canada.

And CBC has reported, “A 17-year study in a pristine mountain environment (of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado) has found a 50 per cent decline in bee pollination, and suggests climate change may be to blame.”

Further reading
Save Ontario’s Bees: Ban The Use Of Neonicotinoid Pesticides