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Vancouver becomes largest city to outlaw bee-killing neonicotinoids, instead opting for natural pest control


(NaturalNews) Last week, the Vancouver city council cast a unanimous vote to issue a citywide ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. Neonicotinoids, or neonics for short, are a group of pesticides first introduced into large scale agriculture in the 1990s, and are believed to be one of the leading causes of recent honeybee die-offs.

Initially presented as a safer alternative to DDT pesticides, neonics have been widely used on Canadian crops by industrial farmers for more than two decades. Since their introduction, British Columbia has experienced 12 to 38 percent losses in honeybee populations each winter.

According to the Montreal Gazette, "Research has shown that lethal impacts to bees caused by neonics range from impaired memory and less success in breeding, to reduced resistance to illness."

Vancouver city council votes to ban use of neonicotinoids

In light of the mounting reports displaying the toxic effects neonics have on honeybees, Vancouver made history by becoming the largest city so far to outlaw their use.

The Vancouver city council's decision came as the result of a federal lawsuit filed by the environmental groups The David Suzuki Foundation, Friends of the Earth Canada, Ontario Nature and the Wilderness Committee, against Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PRMA), for allowing the use of neonicotinoids without conducting the proper scientific research to evaluate their potentially harmful environmental impacts.

In Vancouver's case, it wasn't just the farming and agricultural industries' use of neonics that became alarming – it was its residents' use as well. The greater population of Vancouver has allegedly been drowning their lawns with the toxic stuff in attempts to keep out chafer beetles, a nuisance grub that kills grass roots.

A series of city reports found that when pollinating insects, including honeybees, rest on plants sprayed with neonics, they become extremely vulnerable to being poisoned by the presence of the pesticide.

Scientists identify unlikely organic alternative to neonics

Instead of using neonic pesticides to treat their lawns, scientists are urging citizens of Vancouver to use nematodes, microscopic worms that effectively infect and destroy chafer beetles without harming honeybees, to rid their lawns of the root-killing grub.

Mark Winston, SFU researcher and honeybee health advocate, praised Vancouver's ban of neonics. "We overuse pesticides," he said. "There's a huge fallacy in policy making that the only way we can feed the world is by using pesticides, and that doesn't stand up to the data. Organic and sustainable systems are as close to or as productive as pesticide farming."

While Vancouver joins Montreal and the entire province of Ontario as the first Canadian regions to outlaw the use of neonics, Canada's federal government remains divided on the issue.

According to Gwen Barlee, spokeswoman for the Wilderness Committee, Canadian environmentalists are not happy with Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency's delay in issuing a nationwide ban on neonics, despite the surplus of information linking them to honeybee population declines.

In response, Rebecca Gilman, spokeswoman for Health Canada, claimed, "Health Canada is actively reviewing the emerging body of scientific and monitoring data and is conducting an extensive re-evaluation of all agricultural uses of neonicotinoid pesticides in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation."

Here's to hoping that the same corporate lobbyist corruption by the pesticide industry that's been preventing the U.S. government from tackling the issue of neonics, won't seep its way into the Canadian federal government as well. Check back for updates.






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