Coalition Calls for Ban on Bee Killing Pesticides


October 10, 2013

Queen’s Park

Toronto – A coalition of farmers, civil society and NGOs are calling on Premier Wynne to act responsibly to protect pollinator health by banning the use of neonicotinoid insecticides in agriculture.

According to Health Canada and OMAFRA scientists the facts are clear: the current use of neonicotinoids is unsustainable and undermines the health of our irreplaceable honeybees.

OMAF and Health Canada have both stopped short of a ban, instead publishing “best management practices” which shifts the onus and responsibility onto the farm community and stops short of making difficult choices government is called on to make.

“The provincial Bee Health Working group is focused on the narrow needs of chemical manufacturers and Grain Farmers of Ontario” says coalition spokesperson and farmer Nathan Carey. “Our coalition is bringing evidence to support our call for removing neonics before the 2014 planting season – the bees cannot wait.”

Given the new data from the PMRA the only reasonable course of action is an immediate moratorium on neonicotinoids.

“In the past Provincial governments have taken strong and active leadership when needed for the good of society. Banning the cosmetic use of pesticides and banning of smoking in restaurants and bars are just two examples. We are calling on the Ontario government to immediately ban neonics before the spring 2014 planting season in the interest of Ontarians and their food security.” said Carey.

The PMRA’s recent report shows that neonicotinoids were present in 70 percent of dead bees tested from the 2012 die off and Health Canada has acknowledged their use is “unsustainable”. The EU instituted a moratorium based on the international science on this issue.

“The provincial government is within its jurisdiction to act through our environmental protection legislation – the Premier does not need to wait on the federal government to act” said John Bennett of the Sierra Club.

While some farm organizations have argued the economic case for keeping neonicotinoid seed treatments for corn and soy operators, the Coalition argues our economy cannot afford inaction.

“Pollinated crops account for 35 percent of the food we eat” said John Bennett. “Our top priority should be to protect bees, not Bayer or Syngenta’s bottom line. These companies profited more than $35B US last year – they can survive without selling neonics – can we survive without the pollinators?”.

Grain Farmers of Ontario suggest neonicotinoid seed treatments improves soy and corn output by up to 10 percent, while the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food places the impact at closer to 3 percent difference in yield.

Meanwhile, bee keepers are facing economic ruin. Jim Coneybear, a 3rd generation bee keeper, lost 50 percent of his hives last year and things are even worse this year. Instead of planning his secession and retirement, he now finds himself developing an exit strategy. “If the government doesn’t do something, we are going to lose our commercial operators – then who will be left to pollinate our commercial crops?”

The Coalition is urging the Premier to institute an immediate moratorium on neonicotinoid seed treatments. Once a moratorium is in place the bee health working group would be given a clear mandate to identify the gaps in information and proceed to fill them. An exit strategy and the resources to help farmers move away from the use of systemic pesticides is a place to start.

While bureaucrats and vested interests offer half solutions bees are dying by the millions.  This is a critical issue and we cannot afford to take anything less than full measures.

“We are calling on all concerned citizens to appeal to the Premier on this issue.  The Ministers for Health and Agriculture need to hear from concerned Ontarians that the time to act is now” said John Bennett.

For more information or for interviews please contact

John Bennett, Executive Director, Sierra Club Canada Foundation 613 291 6888

Nathan Carey, National Farmers Union – Ontario  519-665-7305

Jodi Koberinski, Organic Council of Ontario

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