Recently I came upon this cartoon in the Globe & Mail; I laughed at the cleverness of the illustration but at the same time I was struck by its sad truth. The Globe has had a rush of articles this summer on the neonicotinoid pesticide debate and its effects of bees. (I found 7 articles to date, but there might be more; and I have not checked other papers). Some of the articles came from the Business section of the newpaper, presumably because pesticide restrictions would hurt the profits of the big pharmaceutical companies that produce the chemicals. The companies deflect the argument by claiming that restricting the use of “neonics” (short form of the neonicotinoids) would endanger food production. Big agricultural growers are also claiming that they need the pesticides in order to maintain food production, and they further claim that if they didn’t have neonics, they would have to return to the use of the older and more toxic organo-phosphate pesticides. What a abysmal impasse for the environment.
The flurry of arguments and counter-arguments resulted from the request from concerned Ontario environmentalists, scientists and bee-keepers for a moratorium on the use of neonics. These debates are predominently about honeybees, but if managed honey-bees are in danger, then native bees suffer too. Pesticides are not choosy about their victims, sadly.
Where are we going?