Honeybee deaths prompt Ontario to probe possible pesticide link
Published Tuesday, July 9, 2013 12:06PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 10, 2013 6:00PM EDT
TORONTO -- All the buzz about dead bees is prompting Ontario to seek help from a group of experts.
A bee health working group is being formed to make recommendations on how to mitigate the potential risk of a certain class of pesticides to honey bees, the governing Liberals said Tuesday.
The pesticides -- called neonicotinoids -- are used for corn and soybeans.
The group will comprise beekeepers, farmers, people in agri-business and scientists as well as staff from federal and provincial agencies. It will meet this month and provide recommendations by next spring, the government said.
Neonicotinoid pesticides have be banned by the European Union, which has been experiencing the same bee mortality problem, Sierra Club Canada said in a release.
"This working group is the first real recognition of the impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on bees," executive director John Bennett said in the release.
According to the Canadian Honey Council, the bee population in Canada has dropped by an estimated 35 per cent in the past three years.
Many fear that the decline will have a severe impact on the pollination of many plants and the global food supply.
Pollination is responsible for 70 per cent of cultivated plants, and for 35 per cent of humans' overall food consumption. Fewer bees means lower yields -- notably apples, strawberries and cucumbers -- and could ultimately mean a drop in the food supply.
But Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency has failed to act, Bennett said.
The environmental organization asked federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq in April to ban the use of neonicotinoids in Canada, Bennett said. But she hasn't responded.
The agency, which authorized neonicotinoid insecticides for commercialization in 2004, announced an evaluation of the situation in 2012 after bees' increased mortality was reported.
A spokesman for the ministry said Health Canada is monitoring the situation closely and doesn't feel a broad suspension is warranted.