BEEPOLITICAL: NEONICS AND BAYER PHARMACEUTICS
A lot of people talk about neonicotinoids (neonics). But it has been some time since anybody did anything about that whole family of chemicals which are widely regarded as detrimental if not fatal to the health of bees.
And what has been done, a patchwork of proposals to either ban or allow the chemical, has done nothing to eliminate the confusion over its impact.
While in 2013 the European Union placed a two year moratorium on neonics, it allowed a chemical called sulfoxaflor. In the USA, in 2015 a federal court banned the use of sulfoxaflor because the Environmental Protection Agency used “flawed and limited” data when approving it. But neonics are still being widely used.
In the last week of April neonics and one of its major manufacturers, Bayer Pharmaceutics were in the news again. There were protests in Bonn, Germany by beekeepers among others and a series of seminars. All of this was in advance of Bayer’s corporate annual general meeting and the expectation Bayer would be detailing its plans to take over that global producer of GMO seeds Monsanto. Now there is a combination that should give the environmental movement heart palpitations.
A move to limit neonics was introduced by the Ontario Government in 2014. They were hoping to reduce the use by 80 percent by this year, 2017. Not sure how that is turning out but corn and soy bean farmers were not amused.
And at this point, while the two year moratorium placed on three types of neonics by the European Union expired in 2015, it is under review.
Meanwhile two cities in Canada, Montreal (2015) and more recently Vancouver (2016) have banned the use of neonics. In Vancouver attention was drawn to the fact that folks were using a product containing neonics for purely cosmetic purposes by drenching their lawns to destroy the larvae of chafer beetles either the before the larvae destroyed their lawns by feeding on the grass roots or crows or raccoons destroyed the lawns by tearing them up in search for those tasty larvae.
The same time that Vancouver banned neonics, Health Canada in November 2016, proposed a ban on neonics with a three year phase out.
Nothing yet. And a Canadian Senate committee on the subject of neonics and honey bee health said it wanted to study the matter further.
As you might suspect, Bayer’s website says their field studies show that neonics have “no adverse effects to bee colonies.”
Bayer, however, is the same drug company when in the early 1900’s it was aggressively marketing a drug called heroin, it was telling people heroin was a non-addictive substitute for morphine; ideal for the treatment of bronchitis and tuberculosis. The American Medical Association approved its use in 1906.
– Allen Garr