Friday, February 20, 2015

Neonics in the News

Earlier this week, the Maryland legislators moved to protect bees and other pollinators through the Pollinator Protection Act. Landscape industry lobbyists quickly moved to dismiss arguments that honey bee decline is largely impacted by the use of pesticides. Many homeowners may not even be aware that the weed killers so readily available on garden center shelves are in fact destroying their carefully cultivated yards and gardens. Perhaps with a ban on neonics, homeowners and professional landscapers will start to think outside the box. Like using native plants and natural mulches. That's probably wishful thinking, but in the meantime we can lean on legislators on this side of the pond (Virginia) in the hope that they'll be as forward thinking as their MD counterparts.

For a succinct argument on on why neonics are indeed harmful, and how agro-chem companies deny their products' role in honey bee demise, check out Clement Kent's open letter to Canadians. Here are his comments on the issue:

"People not living in Ontario, Canada may not know that the provincial government has proposed banning neonicotinoid-treated corn and soy seed. Coincident with a period of public comment on the proposed ban, full page ads purporting to be from farmers groups but paid for by agro-chem companies appeared in most Ontario newspapers. The ads claimed everything was fine for bees in Ontario and that there was no proof of harm to pollinators by neonics.

I was one of a number of people who tried to correct the record. Attached to this message is a summary I did of the timeline of neonic introduction and honey bee colony and honey production losses. I also analyzed some studies paid for by Bayer which claimed no harm to bees from neonics. The Ontario Beekeepers Association (OBA) has published this summary to their members, and I offer it to any other group wishing to pass it along to members or the public."

Finally, to take it really local and make it personal, here's a link to a great webinar:
Habitat Restoration Fundamentals (Webinar) Listen

This webinar will examine the step-by-step procedures for designing,
installing, and managing native plant communities specifically designed for
monarch breeding. Among the topics to be explored are initial planning
considerations, formulating seed mixes, site preparation and weed
abatement, and long-term land management practices. Real world case studies
will be provided, and successful approaches in multiple eco-regions will be

Eric Lee-M├Ąder is the Pollinator Conservation Program Co-Director at the
Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation ( In this role
Eric works across the world with farmers, gardeners, land managers and the
agencies like the US Department of Agriculture and the United Nations Food
and Agriculture Organization to restore native habitat in working
agricultural lands.

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