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After the Task force on Systemic Pesticides (TFSP) published their definitive analysis that neonics cause serious risks to bees and other beneficial species – such as butterflies, earthworms and birds – activist David Suzuki is calling on government to ban neonics in Canada.

The TFSP, made up of international scientists concerned about the impact of pesticides on biodiversity and ecosystems, concluded a four-year analysis of 800 peer reviewed studies on neonics.

“Unlike other pesticides, which remain on the surface of treated foliage, systemic pesticides are taken up by the plant and transported to all the tissues (leaves, flowers, roots and stems, as well as pollen and nectar),” says TFSP.

Designed to kill aphids and grubs, neonics are ‘systemic’ pesticides that disrupt the central nervous systems of insects. But according to TFSP, they are still toxic even at very low doses and remain in place for months on average, resulting in exposure to non-target organisms, and because they are water-soluble, they run off into aquatic habitats easily.

They affect the species that “chew the plant, sip its sap, drink its nectar, eat its pollen or fruit, [… causing] impaired sense of smell or memory; reduced fecundity; altered feeding behaviour and reduced food intake including reduced foraging in bees; altered tunneling behaviour in earthworms; difficulty in flight and increased susceptibility to disease.”

The EU has already placed restrictions on their use. Suzuki wants to see an outright ban on neonics in Canada.

“Bees may be small,” says Suzuki, “but they play a big role in human health and survival. Some experts say one of every three bites of food we eat depends on them. The insects pollinate everything from apples and zucchini to blueberries and almonds. If bees and other pollinators are at risk, entire terrestrial ecosystems are at risk, and so are we.”

You can join the David Suzuki Foundation’s petition to the Canadian government to ban bee-killing pesticides here.

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