Farmers and beekeepers react to regulations cutting use of neonicotinoids
Published Thursday, June 11, 2015 4:18PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, June 11, 2015 6:36PM EDT
The provincial government is introducing new regulations on pesticides known to be highly toxic to bees.
The law requires farmers to reduce the usage of corn and soybeans seeds coated with the pesticide called neonicotinoids.
Farmers are using this pesticide or "seed treatment" to protect their crops from insects. Something they say is essential to keeping the quality of the crops high and the costs as low as they are.
However, research suggests the pesticide not only kills bees, but ultimately affects pollination that plays a big role in our environment.
Sun Parlour Honey producing around 250,000 pounds of honey every year.
“The chemical companies have done a really good job on saying they have no real impact on the environment and I think the farming community needs to know the truth," says Tom Congbon, beekeeper at Sun Parlour Honey.
Congbon says farmers' use of the pesticide, neonicotinoids, on corn and soybean seeds is responsible for an 80 per cent drop in his production.
“It kills them outright or it can affect their nervous system to the point where they can orientate and return to the hive," says Congbon.
He says Ontario's new regulation to phase out the use is a step in the right direction but it will take time before production gets back to normal.
“It's going to take a few years to reduce the levels in the soil and water that the bees collect to see a really big impact," says Congbon.
Farmers across the province say they oppose these new regulations, saying both beekeepers and farmers should make a collaborative effort to solve this problem.
Farmer Brendan Byrne says he uses the pesticide on 300 acres of his soybean and corn crops.
“It's been a frustrating time," says Byrne. “It's hard when all of the blame is pinned on your industry. Everyone is looking like there is one major bullet that if you take that away it will solve everything."
He says he has been trying to look at alliterative ways to solve the problem.
“Talking about planting flower whether it's in ditch banks or along the 401 corridor, to help the bee have a pollinating friendly habituate," says Byrne.
He says the new regulations will make his crops more susceptible to bugs that will destroy his crops.
“We are returning to an old practice, where we were looking at modern agriculture and the technology having solved some of those issues that were present a long time ago," says Byrne.
As for Congbon, he says educating farmers is essential.
“There's been a lot of misinformation out there and they need to see the truth," says Congbon.
Next year, farmers will be limited to using the pesticide on only 50 per cent of their crops.
If they want to use more, they have to prove they have a pest problem.
By 2017, farmers will be expected to complete a pest assessment if they want to continue to use the treatment.