Loss of Honey Bee Colonies
July 24th, 2013 - 2:23pm
The loss of honey bee colonies is increasingly alarming. New Democrats are making it a priority to ensure this issue is studied very carefully using independent scientific evidence and appropriate action is taken.
As a pollinator, honey bees are not only vital to the honey industry but to players throughout the entire food supply chain. Without honey bees, we would not enjoy many of the foods we do today, producers would suffer and our food security would be jeopardized.
New Democrats have repeatedly brought this issue to the attention of the government in the House of Commons and we are currently working close with beekeepers and the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (under Health Canada) to seek out the root causes of bee mortalities in Canada.
On, June 4, 2012, the Standing Committee on Agriculture & Agri-Food studied the issue of honey bee losses after several extreme cases caused concern in the spring of that year. Members of the committee heard from bee keepers and key honey bee organizations from across the country. During the same time period, PMRA conducted a report that suggested a correlation between corn seeds coated with insecticides clothianidin and or thiamethosam and bee mortalities. It was noted that specific weather conditions causing dust may have contributed to the connection.
As part of an effort to get to the bottom of this issue, a year later on May 7th and 9th 2013, at the request of the NDP, the committee once again studied the issue hearing from the same beekeepers and others in the industry. As New Democrats suggested a year prior, the committee was happy to hear that beekeepers were engaging in discussions with the farming community, seed companies and biotech firms and best practices were being promoted. As much as we welcome both of these initiatives, further cases of mass bee deaths this spring in Ontario and Quebec have prompted further, more swift action.
The issue has escalated to the point that both the Ontario and Quebec Beekeepers Associations have called for a ban on neonictinoid pesticides treatments on field crops. Despite the urgency of beekeepers, the PMRA says their review of this issue won’t be completed until 2018. New Democrats strongly feel this is way too long for a study of such significance and are calling for the Minister of Health to expedite the process so that responsible action can be taken in a timely manner. It is abundantly clear that the Federal government must take more of a leadership role in this issue which is why we are also calling for improvements to the reporting and investigation of incidents.
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