The government of France recently proposed to ban thiamethoxam (Cruiser), which is used to treat canola seed before planting. France and Germany both banned some uses of imidacloprid in 2003 and 2008 respectively (see this balanced Wikipedia article for details). U.S. beekeepers and British environmental groups have called for their governments to ban these compounds.
A large number of recent scientific studies that show these pesticides can harm pollinators, including honeybees and bumblebees. These papers have come from a number of different researchers and many of them have been quite rigorous and published in high-profile journals where every article gets very careful peer-review. They include:
- A study to be published this month from Harvard School of Public Health scientist Chensheng Lu fed honeybee colonies with high fructose corn syrup containing levels of imidacloprid found in the environment (corn seed is treated, and the pesticide travels throughout the plant). Colonies given the pesticide-laced syrup died suddenly, months later, in a manner reminiscent of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
- Christian Krupke's group at Purdue University showed that treated seed releases pesticide into the environment in several different ways, that pesticide gets into bees, and that it harms them. I covered this report in a January blog entry.
- Italian researchers showed small droplets of sap released by corn seedlings are highly toxic to bees when the seed was treated.
- British researchers published in the top journal Science showing that bumblebee colonies exposed to realistic levels of these pesticides produced 85% fewer queens to carry on the species next year.
Of course Health Canada will take some time to come to a decision - this is a government bureaucracy after all. During that time the manufacturers of neonicotinoid pesticides will lobby the government vigorously. It's a good time to get a cool drink, a pen or laptop, and write a letter to your MP expressing your views on this issue.