Beekeepers Sue Pesticide Companies For Causing Mass Die-Offs

Canadian beekeepers are suing pesticide manufacturers Bayer CropScience and Syngenta Canada. According to the lawsuit, the companies willfully used dangerous chemicals to compose neonicotinoid pesticides. Although the chemicals were designed to eliminate pests from crops, they are also blamed for destroying honey bee colonies.

The Ontario Beekeepers Association announced that the class action lawsuit was filed “on behalf of all Canadian beekeepers.” The primary plaintiffs include Munro Honey and Sun Parlor Honey Ltd.

As reported by CBC, the lawsuit alleges the pesticide manufacturers “were negligent in their design, manufacture, sale, and distribution of neonicotinoid pesticides.” The chemicals, which are commonly used on corn and soybean crops, were developed to protect the plants from pests. Unfortunately, the toxins may be causing massive bee die-offs.

In 2013, Health Canada conducted a study to determine what caused the mysterious deaths. The researchers concluded that 70 percent of the dead bees tested positive for neonicotinoid pesticides.

Although the pesticide manufacturers contend the “risk to bees from the pesticide is low,” the farmers disagree. As stated in the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege the neonicotinoid pesticides have contaminated hives, honeycombs, and beeswax. They further blame the pesticides for destroying numerous colonies of bees.

The Ontario beekeepers are suing the pesticide companies for more than $400 million in damages — which include “lost profits and incurred unrecoverable costs.”

As reported by Toronto Sun, Bayer and Syngenta have denied the accusations. Both companies have blamed other factors, including parasites and weather conditions, for the massive bee die-offs.

The companies explained that the same chemicals are used to treat crops in Western Canada. However, that region has not experienced a decline in their bee population.

Representatives with Bayer and Syngenta said neonicotinoid pesticides were developed to replace other pesticides, which “were harmful to the broader environment.”

The beekeepers’ attorney, Dimitri Laskaris, explained that the waning bee population has certainly caused his clients to experience profit loss. However, the “environmental and social” impacts are far worse.

Indeed, declining bee populations could threaten agriculture worldwide. As reported by Yale, the European Food Safety Agency determined neonicotinoid pesticides present a “high acute risk” to bees and their colonies. As a result, the European Commission banned the use of “three major neonicitinoids on seeds and plants attractive to bees.”

The Ontario beekeepers are suing two major pesticide manufacturers, in hopes that Canadian authorities will impose similar restrictions. Although officials have discussed the matter, Canada does not currently restrict the use of neonicotinoid pesticides.

[Image via UNL]