Debora Van Brenk, The London Free Press – September 3, 2014
London, Ontario, Canada — Ontario beekeepers are suing pesticide manufacturers for $450 million, alleging their chemical agents are responsible for the huge decline in bee populations in recent years.
Sun Parlor and Munro Honey intend to launch a class action lawsuit to recover losses by beekeepers dating as far back as 2006.
“From an economic standpoint it’s certainly big. From an environmental and social standpoint, it’s even bigger” said Dimitri Laskaris, a laywer with Siskinds LLP, representing the case.
The statement of claim alleges that Bayer (CropScience) and Syngenta were negligent in the manufacture, sale and distribution of neonicotinoids in Ontario that caused beekeepers to suffer significant losses and damage.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Officials with Bayer CropScience and Syngenta Canada weren’t immediately available for comment.
In previous interviews, the manufacturers have said a variety of factors — including parasites, management practices and weather — have played a role in the declining bee population, which has seen numbers fall by 35% annually in Ontario, and even more in other provinces.
They say neonicotinoids replaced toxic insecticides that were harmful to the broader environment and note that bee deaths aren’t an issue in Western Canada, where neonic-treated canola seed is common.
The apiarists’ lawsuit alleges the companies have made false, misleading and deceptive claims of safety and that treated corn and soybean seeds are now “ubiquitous and inescapable for bees.”
The Sierra Club of Canada, which has been a vocal supporter of the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association, on Wednesday urged Canadians to continue the anti-neonic campaign and to continue “to fuel the fire for ecological justice.”
Neonicotinoids have become a flashpoint within agricultural and environmental circles.
It’s even divided beekeepers.
The Ontario Beekeepers Association, which has come out against the use of the chemical, is not involved in the lawsuit, executive director Julie White said.
The European Union has placed a ban on neonics and the Ontario Agriculture Ministry is looking to curtail farmers’ use of the pesticide.