Response to Thompson’s letter

Section: 
Letter

Science does support controls on use of neonicotinoid pesticides.

 

I am pleased that MPP Thompson has finally taken enough interest in the neonicotinoid issue to write a letter to the Independent. Unfortunately, there are several misstatements and inaccuracies that should be corrected.

 

First, neonicotinoid-treated seed for corn is a relatively recent phenomenon. Clothianidin, the pesticide most used on corn, was given a conditional approval in 2004 (not the 1980s as she claims). But more relevantly, the use of these pesticides has increased exponentially to the point that last year almost 100 per cent of corn seed planted in Ontario was neonic-treated.

 

The world is not flat. Science overwhelmingly supports the evidence showing the harm that neonicotinoids are having on bee populations and our environment. Last year, a panel of 50 scientists came to this conclusion after reviewing more than 800 studies.

 

And yes, we do need to give credit to farmers who are more mindful of the dust issue. Indeed, progress has been made in keeping dust down and away from killing bees. However, only two per cent of active ingredient is released through the dust. Bees more commonly pick up this highly toxic pesticide by way of nectar, pollen and water collected in puddles and wet spots in and around corn and soy fields. And sadly, residues from this widely-used pesticide are showing up in our food.

 

What Thompson misses is the fact that the current situation is not about the use of neonics but their overuse. The fact that we are applying neonics to 100 per cent of corn seed when we only  need them on 20-30 per cent of crops (according to OMAFRA crop specialists) means that farmers  have been paying for pesticides that, in the vast majority of cases, offer little or no benefit. The latest EPA study concluded that neonicotinoids do nothing to increase yields on soy, yet we continue to put them on 65 per cent of soy seed.

 

So who’s really profiting from neonicotinoids? This best-selling pesticide puts $2.6 billion into the coffers of multi-national chemical companies. Perhaps farmers would do better buying Bayer and Syngenta stock?

 

Does Thompson feel her position puts her on the side of farmers? Not all farmers have bought the sales pitch that pesticides should be used when no pests are present. Most farmers believe in good environmental stewardship and do not want to destroy the pollinators we need for our food crops.

 

No doubt, by supporting pesticide manufacturers and their proxies, Thompson hopes to win the votes of her constituents. We caution her that polling before and after the election and after the regulations were announced showed overwhelming support for a reduction in neonicotinoid use in both rural and urban ridings. And if she wants to court farmers, she needs to be reminded that beekeepers are farmers too. Beekeepers know when their livestock is in trouble and they don't need her to tell us there is no problem.

 

Guy Anderson, Kincardine

OBA Director, Beekeeper and

Owner of Hive ‘n Hoe Country Store