Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gardeners Beware 2014 - neonicotinoid residue in garden centre plants


Bee-killing pesticides have been found in "bee-friendly" plants purchased in London ... and in the 17 other Canadian and U.S. cities where volunteers for Friends of the Earth randomly purchased plants to test for neonicotinoid pesticide residue.

A new study released today by Friends of the Earth Canada shows that "bee-friendly" home garden plants sold at garden centres in Vancouver, London, and Montreal had residue showing they had been pre-treated with neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been shown to harm and kill bees. 

All four (4) plant samples from London, Ontario contained neonicotinoids ... giving us the sad distinction of being the only locale of all 18 participating North American cities to have all its samples contaminated.

Gardeners Beware 2014 looks at neonicotinoids in the horticulture industry ... important, because most research has been on agricultural use.

 For me personally, the report confirms that gardeners who want to plant pollinator friendly, healthy gardens simply cannot do so from plants purchased at the standard retail greenhouses and big plant centres.  We have to buy organic.  We have to know our suppliers.

Friends of the Earth Canada's press release is here:   (attached for your convenience and list of references is below signature line).

Of the Canada/U.S. total of 71 plants tested, 36 tested positive for neonicotinoids at an accredited USDA laboratory.  Of the 36 positives, 15 of them - 40% - had 2 or more neonics present. Concentrations of the various neonicotinoids present ranged greatly from lethal to bees on contact/oral dose levels to "sublethal" levels which cumulate over time and repeat exposures to impair such things as motor and memory, fertility, and foraging efficiency.

The Gardeners Beware 2014 report is a joint undertaking of Friends of the Earth in Canada, Friends of the Earth U.S., and Pesticide Research Institute.  It goes through the important issues concerning neonicotinoid insecticides, gives all testing information and sample results, has suggestions for individuals, governments, and retailers, and has a big resource list. 

Please consider some of the ideas below to make your voice and actions heard on the issues of neonicotinoid contamination of plants. 

Please check out the press release, the Gardeners Beware 2014 report in summary or in full, and send information over your networks. You will probably get at least one other notice from me today because your names are on the Community Gardens London main mailing list, and thanks for your patience.

Send letters to the editors of whichever local newspapers you choose, phone in to a radio station, write a blog, give a talk, write whichever level of government and party you choose.

Send a letter of support to whichever organization you know is trying to get neonicotinoids banned.

Please sign the Friends of the Earth Canada PETITION if you have not done so:
Sierra Club also has an action on the go:

Pick a nursery or plant retail outlet and ask questions of its manager and/or staff. 

Keep an eye on the Community Gardens London website, where more articles will be posted on the News pages

Let me - Maureen, webkeeper - know if you/your organization are planning a bee-friendly event or an action against neonicotinoids.  I will post this event, and do my best to get the information sent 'round on our enews list. 

Also, please let me know of any garden suppliers who raise plants organically.  I'm working on a list.

Those of you keeping closest tabs on the neonic issue will be aware that a new meta-analysis of 800 peer-reviewed studies was released yesterday (June 24/14) by the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides - a group of global, independent scientists - and confirms neonicotinoids are a key factor in bee declines and are harming beneficial organisms essential to functional ecosystems and food production, including soil microbes, butterflies, earthworms, reptiles, and birds.  The Task Force called for immediate  regulatory action to restrict neonicotinoids.

Such reinforcement between reports is important, and hurts the heart all at the same time.

Kindest regards, and sincerely,

Why's Woman

Gardeners Beware 2014 report:
Friends of the Earth Canada:
       and the report on its site:
Friends of the Earth Canada Bee Cause site:
Friends of the Earth Canada petition to stop neonic plant sales:
Friends of the Earth U.S.
Pesticide Research Institute:
Task Force on Systemic Pesticides and the report:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Prince Edward County Council takes some action on neonicotinoid insecticides

Hello everyone,

I hope this note finds you well, gardening, bicycling, and/or generally having time to do some of the things you enjoy during this time of year.

I've continued reading about neonicotinoid insecticides - not  a cheery thing to read about.  Just the other day, however, I did run across something that cheered me.

The Prince Edward County (Ontario) Council has taken a look at issues concerning bee health and neonicotoinoid insecticides, and has taken some positive steps to eliminate their use where the Council has jurisdiction, and will bring the matter to other councils' attention.  The Council resolutions below cover a lot of territory and I bet there was a lot of citizen input to bring these ideas forward!

Resolutions from the Prince Edward County Council minutes of May 27/14 follow.

Now therefore be it resolved that:

1.  We call on the provincial and federal governments to declare a moratorium surrounding the use of Neonicotinoid crop treatments, as soon as possible, pending further study;
2.  We support the Health Canada requirement*, and we urge local farmers to utilize the new commercially available seed lubricants during the 2014 planting season when using seed coated in Neonicotinoid crop treatments, if appropriate, to their farm equipment;
3.  The County show local leadership in this regard by discontinuing use of Neonicotinoid products on municipal property immediately;
4.  The County consider creating funding for the inclusion of the planting of bee and butterfly friendly spaces on appropriate County property in the 2015 budget;
5  This resolution be circulated to other municipalities through the Association of Municipalities of ONtairo, to request their support on this serious issue, and further;
6.  This resolution be forwarded to The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, The Honourable Gerry Ritz, Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Federal Minister of Health, Federal MP Daryl Kramp, Federal Opposition Members at this time, and the Premier of Ontario, Provincial Minister of Agriculture and local Provincial MPP immediately after the Provincial Election.
7.  Until such time as a moratorium is enacted where an agronomic assessment shows particular fields to be at minimal risk of damage from soil insects, we urge farmers to order seed not treated with insecticide for the 2015 growing season, and we urge seed companies to make adequate supplies available.

        *  comment: this would be the January 2014 requirement that Bayer fluency agent be used along with N'd seed coating (and I'm pretty sure the requirement came through the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, not Health Canada ... but I'll check)

I could argue that there is some wishy-washyness in the phrases like "pending further study", "if appropriate", and "consider creating"  ... however, it really is a huge thing for a Council to have considered issues concerning neonicotinoid insecticides at all.  I'm absolutely impressed that Council addressed some of the details like seed coating and impressed even more by its resolve to bring its actions to the Association of Municipalities of
Ontario and to send letters to all the people letters will go to.  And, of course, to look at practices on its owned lands.

The resolutions do not bring about a ban or a moratorium on neonicotinoid use in Prince Edward County (I doubt if the Council would have the legal ability to declare or enforce).  However, the Council made some important statements, seems committed to actions, and is showing initiative at the most important political action level.

Prince Edward County Council and (no doubt) citizens have done important work here. Let's hope other places follow. 

Best regards,

Why's Woman