Beekeepers and ENGOs Fight to Protect Bees from Harmful Effects of Neonicotinoids
In early December, I had the privilege of meeting representatives from the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association and the Fédération des Apiculteurs du Québec to hear about their advocacy work with respect to neonicotinoid pesticides.
Since first experiencing wide-spread hive die-offs in 2012, beekeepers have been concerned about the excessive and unprecedented losses of colonies from the inappropriate use of neonicotinoid pesticide treated seeds.
In response, the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association and the Fédération des Apiculteurs have urged provincial ministers to take action to rapidly and drastically reduce the amount of neonics in the environment.
After years of inaction at the federal or provincial levels, the beekeepers associations have taken their fight to court. On February 20, 2018 the Superior Court of Quebec authorized a class action lawsuit on behalf of beekeepers of Quebec against Bayer CropScience Inc., Bayer Inc., Bayer CropScience AG, Syngenta Canada Inc., and Syngenta International AG in connection with neonics. The class action is based on allegations that the Defendants studied, designed, developed, produced, distributed, marketed and/or sold the neonics that would have caused the loss of bee colonies, resulting in financial damage or loss to beekeepers.
Beekeepers of Ontario have launched similar action in Ontario court and await a decision certifying the class action.
At the same time, David Suzuki Foundation, Ontario Nature, Friends of the Earth Canada, and Wilderness Committee, represented by Ecojustice lawyers, are engaged in a lawsuit arguing that the way Canada currently regulates neonics is unlawful. They are asking the court to rule that the PMRA’s “approve first, study science later” approach is unlawful and that the practice of granting approvals without science cannot continue.