Sunday, December 22, 2013

Neonicotinoid pesticides ... why can't we just stop?

Some how, over the last few weeks, I became involved with a couple of people who wanted to present to our municipal advisory committee on agriculture information about the dangers of neonicotinoid peticides for honeybees and other pollinating insects.  These pesticides also have bad effects on other invertebrates (earthworms) and birds, and a report just came out about their bad effects on people. 

Well, I've done a lot of reading, read a bunch of reports, and helped make a presentation to that advisory committee.  Nothing.  The advisory committee did the same as it did in September, when someone else made a presentation.  The people on the committee listened, politely, ... asked a few questions, and thanked us for the report. 

The advisory committee response was exactly what I'd expected it would be.  And it lines up with other agencies in Canada as far as the nothingness of the response. 

Canada's federal level Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency put out an interim report mid-September ... a few recommendations about keeping down the dust that came off the pesticide coating during planting, comments about better labelling, and farmers following them, and suggestions for something that's called "integrated pest management" (which does have its good points, if they were adhered to).  And then it called for comments in the next 90 days.  So, we're just now passed that period of comment.  Apparently, the PMRA had a huge number of comments come in.  Good organizations like the Ontario Beekeepers Association and the National Farmers Union commented, both recommending that the neonicotinoids not be used.  The Ontario Bee Health Working Group - which should be a major voice - is working on its own report (due out probably not before March) and didn't comment on the PMRA interim report.

I'm told that farmers tend to order their 2014 seeds in mid October of the year before.

Do you see the timing problem?  The gap between meetings and reports, and something being done?

Sounds like neonicotinoid pesticides will be used in all their forms during the 2014 planting season, at the same rate as they've been used.  Oh, and about that use ... for example, 100 percent of not organic corn planted is of neonicotinoid coated seed; altho' perhaps only 20% at most of fields might have insect pests, 100% of the seeds have a poison coating.  That's serious insanity, in my opinion.

Meetings and tracking down reports, and finding how to counter people's excuses for not applying something called "the precautionary principle" takes a lot of time.  I wish I could just use the old-style parental "because I said so" and have people stop using bad pesticides, and stop doing a lot of other bad things.  I wish people who end up on committees could/would in their collectivity just decide that they don't need to have 15 definitive studies to take an action ... that they'd look at the information available, the questions it causes, and say "know what? ... we don't know everything yet, but what we do know sounds an alarm ... we've got a problem that's going to be bigger than we ever suspected. Let's stop doing the thing that seems to be causing the problem, now."

I've got several simultaneous beliefs ... which is why I have to give my over-full brain a shake sometimes.

I believe someone has to go in to the agriculture advisory committee and "witness" what they are doing and saying.  I use "witness" in the sense I learned it in a peace group ... that evil has to be seen, even if there's no chance of it being reported to an authority that can stop the evil.  My cynical self phrases this as "keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

I also think there is a time when a person has to step away from the table - from the endless conversation - and just go do something.  My cynical self whispers to be cautious on this, however, ... figuring that the "they" one turns away from will go and do something worse the moment one's gone.

The one thing I am certain about: it takes more bravery and determination to step outside the system and the rules of engagement that have been written by the system. Written in invisible ink, and the page is locked in a bottom drawer in the basement of City Hall, in a room designated Janitorial - Keep out.

All for now.

Best regards, as always,

Why's Woman

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