Editor’s note: The following is an open letter to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, a copy of which was shared with our publication.
Dear Premier Wynne,
In the next 60 days we expect both the Federal and Ontario governments to announce actions on bee health. The choice is clear: take real action and protect Ontario’s bees from neonicotinoid pesticides or allow another year of irreversible damage to our bee population and our beekeepers.
Health Canada, for whom we rely on for protection against harmful pesticides, has confirmed the linkage between neonicotinoid pesticides used to treat corn and soybeans and extensive bee-kills in both 2012 and 2013. With more than four million acres planted in soy and corn in Ontario, we have a situation that beekeepers cannot avoid.
Pesticide lobbyists have tried to create a divide between grain farmers and beekeepers. All farmers aim to be good stewards of their land. No farmer wants to put beekeepers - their fellow farmers - out of business. But if the status quo continues, pesticide companies will continue to profit at the cost of destroying our bees and our livelihoods.
Independent study after study shows the immediate and lasting effects of these pesticides on pollinators, birds and on our soil and water. A thorough scientific review convinced the European Union to ban neonicotinoids this year. Health Canada, itself, has concluded that, “current agricultural practices related to the use of neonicotinoid treated corn and soy are unsustainable.”
In the words of Dr. Peter Kevan, professor of biology at the University of Guelph, “We have a situation with neonicotinoids now which is an exact parallel with the previous situation with DDTs ... where there was broad scale use over the entire landscape, and where this poison was everywhere.”
When announcing your Local Food Act this year, you proclaimed: “Supporting local food does so much for Ontario.” Clearly, without pollinators it will be impossible to realize the economic and health benefits of local Ontario foods.
Ontario must lead Canada. The public good of Ontarians is at stake. The OBA, its supporters and the 65,000 Ontarians who signed our petition, urge you to suspend the use of neonicotinoid pesticides now until we can determine if, or how they can be used safely.
President, Ontario Beekeepers’ Association