Dumping poison on our bees | The Jackal

6 May 2013

Dumping poison on our bees

On 29 April, the BBC reported:

The European Commission will restrict the use of pesticides linked to bee deaths by researchers, despite a split among EU states on the issue.

There is great concern across Europe about the collapse of bee populations. 
Neonicotinoid chemicals in pesticides are believed to harm bees and the European Commission says they should be restricted to crops not attractive to bees and other pollinators.
But many farmers and crop experts argue that there is insufficient data.

Actually the evidence clearly indicates that neonicotinoids are harmful to bees even when proper measures are followed to limit exposure. Here's what one robust Review of Research into the Effects of Neonicotinoid Insecticides on Bees (PDF) found:

Although existing research has documented measurable sublethal effects, few field studies have been properly designed or conducted over a long enough period of time to assess the full risk to bees. Nevertheless, the overall evidence points to the fact that neonicotinoids are harming bees.

With bees being such a vital part of the ecology and our economy, it's little wonder that the European Commission has moved to protect them from neonicotinoids. The BBC article continues:

Fifteen countries voted in favour of a ban - not enough to form a qualified majority. According to EU rules the Commission will now have the option to impose a two-year restriction on neonicotinoids - and the UK cannot opt out.

The Commission says it wants the moratorium to begin no later than 1 December this year.

The European moritorium will of course reduce the sales of pesticides containing neonicotinoids, with manufacturers likely to be looking elsewhere to sell their poisonous products.

One such place is New Zealand, with North Carolina based Ensystex Inc. recently making an application to import a neonicotinoid based insecticide called Bithor.

At the beginning of May, the EPA reported:

The Environmental Protection Authority is calling for submissions on an application to import an insecticide used to eradicate ants.


In its application, Ensystex NZ Ltd, says the product will generally be used by professional pest control operators to treat homes and buildings.

It says one benefit of Bithor is that, because it contains two different active ingredients, there is less risk that the insects will develop a resistance to it.
The application notes Bithor can pose a risk to human health, but this risk can be minimised by the use of appropriate protective equipment.

The applicant has classified the substance as highly ecotoxic to bees.

Under the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act, this would trigger controls, such as restricting the application of the substance if bees are foraging or are likely to forage in the area, and if there are beehives in close proximity.

Bees in New Zealand are already under attack from a number of imported pests and diseases and with them being crucial to New Zealand’s primary sector, pollinating around one third of our food sources, we cannot afford to risk any further adverse impact by increasing the amount of dangerous pesticides they come into contact with.

New Zealand should follow the European Commissions lead, and move towards banning insecticides that contain neonicotinoids. We shouldn't be the dumping ground for dangerous substances that can't be sold elsewhere.

You can help save the bees from neonicotinoid poisoning by making a submission to the Environmental Protection Agency against the importation of Bithor, and any other pesticides that contain the toxic substance.

Please also download and sign the Green's save the bees petition to ensure the multi-million dollar industries that rely on these little insects remain profitable.