There are now scores of scientific studies that show seeds coated with neonic pesticides pose a danger to the environment. The dangers of this neurotoxin include insect mortality, soil and ground water contamination, and risks to human health. The E.U. has banned neonics based on this scientific evidence.
In Ontario, pollen samples after planting corn and soybean have shown dangerous levels of neonic contamination on everything from trees to dandelions, as well as significant concentrations on the surrounding soil. For the last two years, thousands of catastrophic bee deaths have been reported and were directly linked to neonic contamination during the planting of corn and soybeans. Yet our Ontario government has decided to allow planting of coated seeds to continue in 2014. The Ontario Beekeeper’s Association has demanded a ban on neonics for the 2014 planting season to prevent a looming environmental disaster, but sadly the government would prefer to react to a disaster rather than prevent one.
The disaster being predicted is twofold. First, the most obvious is a critical loss of pollen-gathering insects including the honeybee. Many people assume this will only affect honey production and the income of beekeepers. But the loss of bees and other wild pollinators will be instrumental in the second disaster.
A good 30 per cent of our food supply requires pollination for its existence. Years ago, wild pollinators took care of this task, but more recently orchards have hired beekeepers to bring their hives during the bloom. Once bees are gone, how will we get something as simple as an apple to grow? Perhaps seasonal workers with chicken feathers could try pollinating the flowers. They have attempted manual pollination in one province in China after poisoning all their insects, but this has only resulted with marginal success. The costs, of course, will be carried by the consumer. Are you prepared to pay $10 for one apple?
In the near future, without insect pollinators the billions lost in the fruit industry will dwarf any crop reductions predicted by the Ag industry in corn and soybean if the coatings were no longer applied.
To wait and see what happens is like sitting on the Titanic watching the iceberg approach and pretending that it is only a mirage. We should all be screaming at the captain to turn the ship, but the captain is listening to the Ag industry and they’re saying, “Full steam ahead; no danger here.”
I still have a few beehives, but I fully expect that they will suffer and die this spring when my neighbours plant their corn — just as they have done for the last two years. When the dust settles, I will — for the last time — report my losses to the government, and await the impact of the following disaster.
For more information about neonic pesticide effects on honeybees: