Watch above: group wants pesticides linked to decline in honey bee population re-examined
SASKATOON – The Saskatchewan Environmental Society would like to see the province take action on controversial crop pesticides called neonicotinoids.
The society’s Peter Prebble told Global News evidence is building that the pesticides are harmful to bees – which are important in pollinating many prairie crops, including canola.
“I think it would be wise to see Saskatchewan regulating these pesticides,” said Prebble, and pointed out the European Union recently placed a two year moratorium on neonicotinoids.
Ontario, he said, is also moving to limit the use of them.
“There are significant declines in honey bees in many parts of the world where these pesticides are used,” said Prebble.
“The colonies are declining, the queen bees are dying off.”
Prebble hopes to see a consultation process that includes all those affected.
“It means a lot because these are our pollinators, three quarters of crops are insect pollinated,” he said.
A recent study in the Netherlands, published in the journal Nature, found neonicotinoids also appear to reduce bird populations, possibly because the pesticide is killing the insects that birds feed on.
Neonicotinoid pesticides are typically coated on agricultural seeds like canola to protect the plants from harmful insects.
However, many farmers see neonicotinoids as a valuable tool in reducing losses from insects, and the provincial government agrees.
In a statement, the minister of agriculture said regulation of pest control products is done by the federal government, and points out Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is reviewing neonicotinoid insecticides. However, the ministry says the PMRA has no reported cases of the insecticide hurting honey bees in the province.
“The ministry does not support a ban at this time,” the statement says, but adds that could change once the federal review is finished.
The ministry says canola is the main crop where neonicotinoids are used in Saskatchewan, and adds the number of honey bee colonies in the province has actually increased in recent years.