Don’t just blame pesticides for decline in bee numbers

The complexity of the issues facing bee health is, unfortunately, too frequently being overlooked in favour of an unjustifiable focus on pesticides. International researchers widely agree that bee health is impacted by a combination of factors, the primary one being the Varroa mite.

The complexity of the issues facing bee health is, unfortunately, too frequently being overlooked in favour of an unjustifiable focus on pesticides. International researchers widely agree that bee health is impacted by a combination of factors, the primary one being the Varroa mite.

Banning neonicotinoids is not the answer. There is overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrating that neonicotinoid residues are not a significant factor in overall bee health decline. That is why, rather than focusing only on one factor, we should be taking a holistic approach to solving this important problem.

In Western Canada, more than 20 million acres of canola, the majority of which is treated with a neonicotinoid, is planted and bee health remains strong. If we look at the rest of the world, certain regions that do not use neonicotinoids are experiencing major bee losses while others that make widespread use of these tools have healthy, thriving bee populations.

Clearly, there is no reason, then, to draw the conclusion that neonicotinoids are solely to blame for the losses of Ontario beekeepers.

It’s important to note that what happened in Oregon was an unfortunate example of misapplication. Banning neonicotinoids is not the answer.

There is overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrating that neonicotinoid residues are not a significant factor in overall bee health decline. That is why, rather than focusing only on one factor, we should be taking a holistic approach to solving this important problem.

Canada should not follow the lead of Europe by proposing a knee-jerk ban on neonicotinoids. After all, Europe’s current policies have put it the position of being the world’s largest food importer. Let’s instead work collaboratively together to find meaningful, long-term solutions to bee health challenges that will ensure a productive and sustainable agricultural system.

Lorne Hepworth

President, CropLife Canada

Ottawa

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