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Doctors, Nurses Urge Ontario to Ban Neonicotinoids

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Neonicotinoids are neuro-active pesticides that cause bees to become disoriented and uncoordinated, as well as cause them to develop tremors and other neurological problems that often lead to their deaths. (Toby Talbot, File/AP) 

The pressure is growing on the Ontario government over neonicotinoids, the agricultural pesticide linked to the deaths of bee colonies, with doctors and nurses urging the province to ban the chemicals.

The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and the Registered Nurses of Ontario have a meeting planned with Ontario environment minister Glen Murray later this year at which they plan to urge a ban, says Gideon Forman, executive director of CAPE.

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The Registered Nurses of Ontario and Canadian Physicians for the Environment want to create public awareness of the dangers of neonicotinoids with this subway art.

"We will talk with about the science suggesting these chemicals are hurting bees. We are a science-based organization," Forman told CBC News.

Ahead of that meeting CAPE and the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario are placing advertisements on Toronto transit to raise awareness of the issue of neonics, which are used to treat corn, canola and other crops.  

The ads show a young boy gazing at a dead bee with the message "Doctors and nurses say neonic pesticides hurt our bees and us."

"We want to get out the message that health professionals are concerned about the issue," Forman said. "It's not just environmental organizations."

Ontario's environmental commission Gord Miller recommended last month that Ontario act on its own to ban the use of the agricultural pesticides, saying there is ample science to support the suggestion that neonics are responsible for the collapse of bee colonies.

Ontario has said it is waiting for the results of a federal study this year about the effects of three of the pesticides on bee colonies, but Miller has recommended acting even if the federal government doesn't. The actual banning of neonicotinoids would be the responsibility of Health Canada, but Ontario can legislate the use of chemicals in agriculture.

Doris Grinspun, CEO of the RNO, is urging Ontario to act quickly, saying neonics are a matter of public health.     
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