Don’t blame pesticides for honeybee colony decline

Don't blame pesticides for honeybee colony decline Re: Bees matter, so restricting neonics is the right thing to do, Feb. 13, 2015 It's no surprise to see the David Suzuki Foundation has completely ignored the 28,000 Ontario farm families that have spoke

Re: Bees matter, so restricting neonics is the right thing to do, Feb. 13, 2015

It’s no surprise to see the David Suzuki Foundation has completely ignored the 28,000 Ontario farm families that have spoken out against Ontario’s recent proposal to restrict the use of neonicotinoid-treated seeds.

While the foundation may see it as a “modest proposal,” this concerted attack on agriculture and the livelihood of thousands of Ontario farmers is nothing short of disappointing. Just as we need bees, farmers need tools like neonics to provide us with safe, high-quality foods while ensuring our environment is protected for future generations.

The agricultural sector is united against this unworkable policy proposal. Activist groups who know nothing about agriculture continue to use simplistic arguments and fear-mongering to raise their profile on this issue.

Readers should know that pesticides used today are the safest they have ever been, neonics being a prime example. Not only have bee colonies increased in Ontario by 59 per cent since 2003, when neonics became widely used, but the seed treatment offers farmers many benefits including the ability to adopt soil conservation practices which helps decrease greenhouse gas emissions and enriches soil health.

As the product is applied directly to the seed, the amount used is considerably less than what is used when farmers have to spray an entire field. And because the seed is planted directly into the ground, beneficial insects, like bees, are less exposed to the product.

It’s also important to know that the European “moratorium on neonicotinoids” cited in Suzuki’s opinion piece has led to devastating losses of rapeseed crops in Europe and farmers are now turning to full-field spraying in hopes of controlling the problem.

The fact of the matter is that neonics have become a convenient scapegoat for activist groups like the David Suzuki Foundation – even when scientific evidence doesn’t support their sensationalism. Naming pesticides as the main culprit in pollinator health issues does little more than steer us away from finding actual solutions to improve pollinator health.

Pierre Petelle

Vice-president of chemistry, CropLife Canada

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