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Originally published October 13 2014

Ontario government recognizes neonicotinoids as 'the biggest threat' to the environment

by Julie Wilson staff writer

(NaturalNews) Environmental advocates in Ontario are warning of an ecosystem collapse if a certain class of insecticides continues to be used throughout the province.

Gord Miller, the environmental commissioner for Ontario, released his 2013/2014 annual report detailing concerns over several practices that are negatively impacting the environment. Among those concerns was the use of neonicotinoids, a neuro-active insecticide that's chemically similar to nicotine. Neonicotinoids, or neonics, are showing up everywhere in the environment, including our lakes and rivers, due to the doubling of their application over the past two years, especially in agriculturally dense regions.

The widespread use of neonics has been linked to the death of bees, other pollinating insects, birds and aquatic life, according to scientists, causing a "massive impact" on our ecological systems.

"All the science is not done, but everything that I have before me ... suggests to me that this is the biggest threat to the structure and ecological integrity of the ecosystem that I have ever encountered in my life, bigger than DDT, " wrote Miller in his annual report.

Glen Murray, the environmental minister for Ontario, said that neonics are "much more toxic" than DDT, which Canada banned in 1972 due to environmental and safety concerns.

"It is persistent in the environment and stays there for years. About 94% of it doesn't go into the plants, it goes into the soil," said Murray. "It is impacting not just colonizing bees, but wild bees, birds, soil health as well as frogs and other invertebrate aquatic life."

Ontario isn't the first place to sound the alarm regarding the use of neonics. Spokane, Washington, and Eugene, Oregon, have already implemented bans on using the insecticide on city property. Tucson, Arizona, also recently announced plans to ban neonics on city property due the chemical's ecological effects.

One of the biggest concerns voiced in Miller's report is that the impact of neonics on the environment is still not completely understood, meaning the damage could be far worse than researchers are predicting.

"They're affecting the food supply to our insect-eating birds, but we just don't know the full magnitude of that, and one of the recommendations of this report is that the Ontario government do some effective monitoring of the soil, the water and the wild plants to see how big that impact is," he said. "I'm very concerned."

Over half of Ontario's beehives lost due to the use of neonics

Health officials stated that the government is exploring ways to mitigate the impact of pesticides by 2016, according to a report by CTV News; however, others allege that the government has done little to hinder the damage caused by neonics.

The province lost 58% of its beehives last winter, according to the Ontario Bee Keepers Association, which complained that the government failed to act on previous warnings and insists that the chemicals should be banned immediately.

"We need Ontarians to stand up and push the government to ban neonicotinoids, which are destroying the whole ecosystem," said David Schuit of Saugeen Country Honey. "We can't sustain this. It's going to put us out of business."

Ontario's Green Party is calling for an immediate ban on neonics to plan for next spring's planting system. "Our entire food system is threatened because of neonicotinoid seeds, which the premier wants to talk about but not take action on."

The use of neonics could possibly be causing a pollinator crisis, suggests the report. Most fruits, vegetables, forages and oilseeds rely on pollinator insects and without them 35% of food production could be interrupted. Nearly 90% of the world's major food crops depend on pollinators to some extent, stated researchers.


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