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Organic Consumers Association

Bee Deaths Linked to Insecticides, Health Canada Data Show for Second Year

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Early results from government tests on dead bees this spring and summer show levels of controversial pesticides are comparable with those detected last year, when Health Canada declared a link between the seed-coating chemicals and "unusually high" bee deaths, the Star has learned.

The news represents stronger evidence that types of neonicotinoids - a class of insecticides that act on the nervous system - lathered on corn and soy seeds are contributing to reported bee declines, say beekeepers and environmentalists who want the substances banned in Canada.

"To see it happen two years consecutively in documented reports . . . is not surprising to beekeepers," said Dan Davidson, president of the Ontario Beekeepers' Association. "We knew something was wrong for years."   

The latest neonicotinoid data were collected from sites in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec for an ongoing study by Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), agency spokesperson Sean Upton said in an email. The preliminary results show the presence of neonicotinoids in 75 per cent of 102 dead bee samples examined as of Aug. 29, according to the document obtained by the Star.

Last year, the PMRA found neonicotinoids in 70 per cent of 127 samples, prompting the government to release a "mitigation strategy" to reduce bee exposure to these insecticides. The report suggested bees are getting in contact with neonicotinoids through contaminated dust emitted when pesticide-coated corn and soy seeds are planted.   

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