Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Bee Deaths Avoidable
Environmental groups swarm Minister Rona Ambrose
Released by Joe Foy, Wilderness Committee
groups want federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose to reconsider Health
Canada's decision to re-approve a pesticide — severely restricted in
Europe and linked to massive bee die-offs in Canada — for use on fruits,
potatoes and turf.
Lawyers from the Canadian Environmental Law Association and Ecojustice
have filed a Notice of Objection with the health minister on behalf of
Sierra Club Canada, Wilderness Committee, David Suzuki Foundation and
Équiterre. The objection concerns Health Canada's recent decision to
renew the registration for clothianidin, a neonicotinoid pesticide toxic
to bees, which the groups say should be banned in Canada.
Over the past two years, massive bee die-offs reported in Manitoba,
Ontario and Quebec were linked to the use of neonicotinoid pesticides.
In addition, a growing body of scientific literature documents the
adverse effects of neonicotinoids on the foraging and homing behaviour
of bees, as well as metabolic, immune and reproductive functions.
Earlier this year, the European Union severely restricted the use of
four neonicotinoid pesticides, including clothianidin, because of the
risk to bees' health. On Sept. 13, acknowledging that these pesticides
cause harm to bees, Health Canada asked for public comments on proposed
measures to mitigate impacts related to the use of neonicotinoid treated
corn and soybean seed. But environmental groups say this is not enough,
and that a full ban on all agricultural uses of clothianidian is needed.
"A review panel is necessary to ensure that we have an objective,
scientific assessment of whether Canada should continue to approve the
use of this pesticide," said Elaine MacDonald, a senior staff scientist
with Ecojustice. "To protect bee populations, the health minister must
reconsider the available evidence, which suggests that it's time for a
According to the Pest Control Products Act, the health minister may
establish a panel to review the decision in response to an objection.
The panel would then recommend whether to reverse the decision. If the
panel is established, environmental groups have the right to explain why
they are bringing this objection. If the minister rejects the objection,
she must provide a written explanation.
"The leisurely, decade-long pace the government has taken to demand full
information from industry on whether clothianidin produces long-term
toxic effects on bees would make one think the government wants to turn
bees into endangered species," said Joseph F. Castrilli, counsel at the
Canadian Environmental Law Association. "Canadians are entitled to
better protections under federal pesticide law."
Approximately 90 per cent of all flowering plants require pollinators to
survive. Honey bees are perhaps the best known pollinators but wild,
native pollinators play an essential role in plant reproduction and food
production. The decline of wild pollinators may be an even more alarming
threat to crop yields than the loss of the honey bee.
John Bennett, executive director of Sierra Club Canada, said that this
is about more than bees: "About 35 per cent of the food that reaches our
tables relies on pollination by honey bees and other insects and that's
why Health Canada should be acting."
Joe Foy, national campaign director with the Wilderness Committee, says
that "in recent years, native bumble bee populations have suffered
massive declines, with some species disappearing from Canada all
together. It is a frightening unravelling of our nation's biodiversity."
Copyright (c) 2013 The Valley Voice