Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pollinator Health Strategy for Ontario - everyone has a say

Hello everyone,

I hope this note finds you well.  

Over the last months - well, over a year - I've been doing so much reading about bees and other pollinators, and neocotinoid insecticides that I've sometimes thought I'd burst.  

Today  I attended the first of four public meetings, set up by the Ontario Agriculture and Environment ministries, to receive comment on a proposed Pollinator Health Strategy (PHS).  The controversial part of the PHS is its aspirational goal of reducing use of neonicotinoid treated corn and soy seed by 80 percent. 

People with very different perspectives exchanged ideas and opinions. Facilitators ensured everyone participated.  I am an urbanite concerned about food systems, environment and economy; differing opinions around the table did not "dilute" my comments.  I use that word "dilute" because the Grain Farmers of Ontario complained that their opinions would be diluted if they made them in a room full of city dwellers.  I've got to admit, that hurt my feelings at first  ... then I just laughed about how silly it was.

Isn't it supposed to be a good strategy to "be at the table", hearing what the other guy is saying?  Or, to use the joke, Isn't that the same as "keep your friends close and your enemies closer"?  (I figure members of Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) were at the meeting despite advising its members to boycott it; good strategy would require it)

The PHS recommendation to reduce acreage planted using neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds is based on peer-reviewed studies of  those insecticides' negative effects on pollinators, arthropods, and birds.   

Ag/chem interests are always saying we should base our decisions on "sound science". "Science" is a set of methods for gathering and interpreting information.  Rigorous scientific method may or may not give you the answer you want to a question; getting an answer you do not want does not make the "science" unsound. 

In my thinking the science behind the PHS is pretty sound.  And I've sure done the reading over the last year!

There are actually even stronger measures I'd like to see our provincial government take, and I'd like to have a much expanded over-arching pollinator health strategy than is outlined in the proposal.  I'm hoping the big picture stuff will be more fully worked up in the report due out July 2015.  

But I'm really pleased to see my provincial government take a step ahead of other provinces and the feds, and acknowledge that something has to be done to save our ecosystem and food supply, and to come up with a practical measure to make change ... even tho' it's ticked off the big ag chemical companies to a degree they haven't been ticked off in years.  

O.k., ... I admit ... especially since it's ticked 'em off.

Good on ya, ministers Leal in agriculture and Murray in Environment and Climate Change. 

Very best regards.  I hope your day was as satisfying as mine.

Why's Woman

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