EDITORIAL: Neonicotinoids kill our bees

We have been hearing it for years: bee populations are decreasing.

A world without bees would most likely mean a world food crisis. Whether you think they are cute flying furry insects, or a totally terrifying sharp object with wings, bees play an important role in our ecosystem.

Realistically, there are only 42 species of bees out of nearly 1,000 that pollinate crops, flowers, and contribute to our gardens and farms. And, a majority of these species are facing a declining population. The most startling is the American bumblebee, which is facing imminent extinction from Canada.

With spring on its way, and gardeners purchasing greenery to plant in their plots, a warning has swept over social media. This warning seems mostly targeted at Home Depot, and is letting people know not to purchase plants containing neonicotinoids. According to Snopes, this warning is out of date, but the harm of neonicotinoids remains very real.

At this time last year, the European Union banned three neonicotinoids insecticides based on concerns that they were affecting bee populations. Neonicotinoid use remains legal in most parts of the United States. There are three important neonicotinoids currently approved for agricultural use in Canada, imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam.

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s (PMRA) began investigating and analyzing these pesticides in 2012 after bee incident reports suggested that exposure to neonicotinoids in dust contributed to bee mortalities. After this happened, the PMRA “worked to help ensure risk mitigation measures were communicated to growers across Canada, and that a dust-reducing lubricant was readily available,” according to Health Canada.

So basically, it sounds like Health Canada knows that neonicotinoids harm bees, and instead of banning the pesticides that clearly have adverse reactions in our environment, they went on to try to make this awful stuff stick to our crops, rather than abolishing it to save the future of those very same crops. Oh, and between 2014 and 2017, during planting season, the number of incidents reporter were 70 to 92 per cent lower, compared to 2013.

I guess that’s another good reason to make sure you’re rinsing you veggies thoroughly. They are also used for other purposes, including killing insects in homes, controlling fleas on pets, and protecting trees from invasive insects such as the Emerald Ash borer. Health Canada says the neonicotinoids are used on corn and soybean crops.

The three neonicotinoids have also been found in waterbodies in areas of intensive agriculture. So, not only are neonicotinoids killing off our bees, they could be causing reaction in and around Canada’s most valuable resource.

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