Neonicotinoids Use Restrictions Enacted, Beekeepers Rejoice

Neonicotinoids restrictions enacted in Ontario have beekeepers in Canada rejoicing, and their peers in others regions and nations hopeful for similar legislation. The Ontario neonicotinoids restrictions state that the chemical pesticides popular with biotech giants like Monsanto will be restricted by 80 percent by 2017.

A 2014 Harvard study states that neonicotinoids – the dominant ingredient found in many popular insecticides which treat much of the corn in the U.S. — are to blame for honeybee colony collapse disorder. Honeybees provide pollination for 70 percent of the food we grow to eat. Bees don’t pollinate corn, but the pollen drifts elsewhere, where it makes contact with bees.

The Harvard honeybee study was published in the Bulletin of Insectology. The university scientists studied 18 honeybee colonies in Massachusetts for about one year, and reviewed how even low doses of two types of neonicotinoids — clothianidin and imidacloprid — impacted healthy honeybee hives over the winter. They placed the hives in three locations, and at each spot gave four hives high fructose corn syrup laced with neonicotinoids and left two hives untouched. The result: Half the hives that came into contact with the insecticide suffered colony collapse disorder. And the bees that were left were not doing great.

Among the control group that did not come into contact with the neonicotinoid, only one out of six hives was lost, and even in that instance, the bees did not leave the hive. Researchers blamed that lost hive on a parasite. The study “reinforced the conclusion that sub-lethal exposure to neonicotinoids is the likely main culprit for the occurrence of CCD,” the study said. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, honeybees have experienced a significant population decline worldwide since 2005. Neonicotinoids were first developed by Bayer.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have long claimed that insecticides containing neonicotinoids are safe, but the Harvard study found otherwise. In the study, approximately half of the bee colonies which had been exposed to neonicotinoids died.

Government officials in Ontario are reportedly attempting to negotiate a solution to the neonicotinoids issue and the honeybee population declines that will appease all parties involved. The Ontario government reportedly has a “strained” relationship with rural residents. The non-urban residents live in the region where crops are grown and honeybees are raised.

Last July, agriculture minister Jeff Leal revealed that Ontario would restrict the use of the chemical pesticide by the 2015 planting season. Leal later retracted the neonicotinoids pledge, after frustrated farmers said they had already purchased next year’s seed. In October, environmental commissioner Gord Miller recommended that Ontario “move toward banning” the chemical insecticide on its own, rather than waiting for Ottawa to initiate action.

Ottawa officials are awaiting for two reports from the Pest Management Regulatory Agency which relate to neonicotinoids. One is a summary of the 2014 planting season and the other is the agency’s interim report of its review of neonicotinoids. Both reports are expected next year. The Registered Nurses of Ontario and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment have warned that the pesticides could harm children’s health.

Do you think neonicotinoids should be banned?

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