Bee-friendly ban

The Glengarry News - Glengarry Supplement - - News -

This is the year the On­tario govern­ment hopes to vir­tu­ally elim­i­nate the use of neon­i­coti­noid-treated crops and at the same time halt the loss of valu­able pol­li­na­tors.

The new Pol­li­na­tor Health Ac­tion Plan is de­signed to help keep the prov­ince's agri­cul­tural sec­tor sus­tain­able and pro­duc­tive and sup­port a healthy en­vi­ron­ment by bet­ter pro­tect­ing pol­li­na­tors.

Pol­li­na­tion by bees, but­ter­flies and other in­sects en­ables crops and other plants to grow, pro­vid­ing over one-third of the pro­duce con­sumed in On­tario and con­tribut­ing $992 mil­lion an­nu­ally to the prov­ince's econ­omy.

In 2015, On­tario be­came the first ju­ris­dic­tion in North Amer­ica to pro­tect bees and other pol­li­na­tors through new rules to re­duce the num­ber of acres planted with neon­i­coti­noid-treated corn and soy­bean seeds by 80 per cent by 2017.

The new reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments cre­ated a new class of pes­ti­cides – Class 12 – for corn and soy­bean seeds treated with the fol­low­ing neon­i­coti­noid in­sec­ti­cides: im­i­da­clo­prid, thi­amethoxam and cloth­i­an­i­din.

This new class of pes­ti­cides ap­plies to corn seed grown for grain or silage and soy­bean seed.

Corn seed and soy­bean seed treated only with fungi­cide are not clas­si­fied as Class 12 pes­ti­cides un­der the reg­u­la­tion.

The rules are meant to en­sure that neon­i­coti­noid-treated seeds are used “only when there is a demon­strated pest prob­lem.”

The ac­tion plan re­stores and pro­tects one mil­lion acres of pol­li­na­tor habi­tat across the prov­ince, sup­ports new pol­li­na­tor health re­search, col­lect more data to bet­ter mon­i­tor man­aged honey bee colonies and wild pol­li­na­tors, and to track neon­i­coti­noid lev­els in the en­vi­ron­ment. The plan builds on the prov­ince's on­go­ing work to pro­tect pol­li­na­tors, in­clud­ing pro­vid­ing pro­duc­tion in­surance for bee­keep­ers and re­duc­ing the use of neon­i­coti­noid-treated seeds in the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try.

It also sup­ports the work be­ing done by On­tario farm­ers to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment, in­clud­ing pol­li­na­tors, through on-farm En­vi­ron­men­tal Plan Projects.

Alarm bells were sounded when honey pro­duc­tion in the prov­ince dropped by 32.6% in On­tario be­tween 2012 and 2013, twice the na­tional av­er­age.

The On­tario Bee­keep­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion notes that ex­po­sure to neon­ics ag­gra­vates other prob­lems such as var­roa mites, viruses and loss of habi­tat.

“De­spite their best ef­forts, bee­keep­ers can­not man­age neon­i­coti­noid us­age and ex­po­sure,” the OBA says.

“By com­pro­mis­ing the bees’ im­mune sys­tem, bees are more vul­ner­a­ble to viruses and find it more dif­fi­cult to fight off var­roa, by re­duc­ing their nav­i­ga­tion skills, neon­i­coti­noids af­fect the bees’ ca­pac­ity to forage and com­mu­ni­cate forage op­por­tu­ni­ties to other bees and by re­duc­ing the avail­abil­ity of a di­ver­sity of un­con­tam­i­nated plants, neon­i­coti­noids com­pro­mise nu­tri­tion.”

The as­so­ci­a­tion states: “Bee health is­sues can­not be ad­dressed in iso­la­tion from the im­pact of these pes­ti­cides, which is why we be­lieve that sus­pend­ing the use of these chem­i­cals is cen­tral to any strat­egy to ad­dress the sur­vival of honey bees.”

In­creased acreage of corn crop

Although neon­i­coti­noids are ap­proved for use on many crops in On­tario, corn rep­re­sents the most con­cen­trated use.

In 2004, the num­ber of acres of grain corn in On­tario was 1.7 mil­lion acres.

By 2012, this was up to 2.3 mil­lion acres, an in­crease of 34 per cent, de­spite the fact that to­tal crop­land acreage has stayed the same over this pe­riod.

As well, soy­bean crops, which use neon­i­coti­noids sig­nif­i­cantly, have grown to 2.7 mil­lion acres.

Neon­i­coti­noid pes­ti­cides ac­cu­mu­late in the soil, in­creas­ing the in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion. Even un­treated plants may take up residues of neon­i­coti­noids still present in the soil from pre­vi­ous ap­pli­ca­tions.

With­out pol­li­na­tors, much of the food we eat and the fields of flow­ers and trees that we en­joy would not ex­ist.

Pol­li­na­tion plays an im­por­tant func­tion in the en­vi­ron­ment by con­tribut­ing to the di­ver­sity of plants and flow­ers. Many crops such as ap­ples, cher­ries, peaches, plums, cu­cum­bers, as­para­gus, squash, pump­kins and mel­ons rely on pol­li­na­tors. Cer­tain field crops ei­ther rely on pol­li­na­tion or ben­e­fit from pol­li­na­tion in terms of yield. The eco­log­i­cal value of pol­li­na­tion in­cludes food and shel­ter for wildlife and peo­ple, fuel and biomass, tem­per­a­ture mod­er­a­tion and the pro­duc­tion of oxy­gen.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.