Hundreds of thousands of people have requested that the US Environmental Protection Agency ban neonicotinoids, the bee-killing pesticides that are used prevalently in America, but to no avail. Now doctors and nurses are joining forces in Canada to urge the Ontario government to ban these damaging chemicals.
The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario will place advertisements throughout Toronto’s subway system with a simple message, “neonic pesticides hurt our bees and us.”
37 million bees were recently found dead in Canada after a large GMO planting, likely due to the chemicals that are used to grow genetically altered corn there.
The executive director of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, Gideon Forman, said:
“The neonicotinoid insecticides used to grow corn, canola and other crops are a “major threat to both nature and people. For the first time, we’ve got doctors and nurses standing together and saying we’ve got to ban these substances. I think it’s unprecedented, this level of health professionals’ concern.”
The doctor’s group supporting this anti-neonic campaign includes contributions from the David Suzuki Foundation and Ontario Nature.
Suzuki has pointed out that:
“. . .an international group of independent scientists released the results of a comprehensive analysis of 800 peer-reviewed studies on neonics — a massive, four-year undertaking. Their conclusion: “…there is clear evidence of harm sufficient to trigger regulatory action.” The assessment highlights serious risks, not only to bees, but to many other beneficial species, including butterflies, earthworms and birds.”
Neonicotinoids were introduced as a ‘safer’ alternative to other Big Ag chemicals, but they haven’t proven to be safe whatsoever. All across Europe, neonics have been banned due to the possible harm they are inflicting on all types of pollinators, from bees to butterflies.
Without a groundswell of support to ban neonics, the Ontario government will likely unveil regulations which will allow their continued use. There is a permit system that is expected to go into place by next year without public intervention.
Mr. Forman said:
“Minimally there should be a moratorium for a couple years, but ultimately we think we need to be banning them. All the science that we’ve looked at … really strongly suggest that these are very toxic to a range of pollinators.”
As usual Big Ag is fighting back with the possibility of regulatory bans – warning that any new legislation that would limit or halt neonics use would ‘drive farmers out of the province and reduce food production.”
Oddly, without bees and other pollinators, much of the world’s food production would indeed come to a screeching halt. We would no longer enjoy foods as diverse as tamarind, grapes, vanilla, apples, cucumbers or persimmons. The list of foods bees help pollinate is long.
Regardless, Henry van Ankum, the chairman of the Grain Farmers of Ontario, which is one of the groups in the coalition that includes Ontario Pork and Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association states:
“An unpredictable regulatory system that responds to emotion and activist pressure is going to create an environment in this province that’s going to restrict agriculture investment and growth for the industry.”
Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller; however, has compared neonics to DDT, stating that the environmental impact of neonics is just as significant.
The European Food Safety Authority has said that the neonics, acetamiprid and imidacloprid, may adversely affect the development of the human brain, and acceptable exposure levels for the chemicals should be reduced. In many others’ estimation there are ‘no safe levels’ of exposure to ensure proper childhood development. They are neurotoxins, after all.
Dr. Jean-Marc Bonmatin, one of the lead authors of the report that Suzuki champions has said:
“We are witnessing a threat to the productivity of our natural and farmed environment equivalent to that posed by organophosphates or DDT. Far from protecting food production, the use of neonics is threatening the very infrastructure which enables it, imperiling the pollinators, habitat engineers and natural pest controllers at the heart of a functioning ecosystem.”
The US Department of Agriculture’s Bud Hover admits that in lab tests, neonics have been shown to “have adverse sub-lethal effects to bees, depending on the level of exposure”, and these “sub-lethal effects include ‘impaired learning behavior, short and long term memory loss, and altered foraging behavior and motor activity.”
Despite this he believes there is not enough information to warrant a ban in the US.
So – do we wait until most of our pollinators are all dead and we can no longer sustain the food supply?
The “Big 6” pesticide and GMO corporations; BASF, Bayer, Dupont, Dow Chemical Company, Monsanto, and Syngenta dominate the agricultural input market -- they own the world’s seed, pesticide and biotechnology industries. They care little about the life cycle of the bees and butterflies. But you do. Stand against them, and tell our governments and retailers worldwide that neonics need to go.