Posts Tagged Canada

Canadian beekeepers sue Bayer and Syngenta over neonicotinoid pesticides

From http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/canadian-beekeepers-sue-bayer-and-syngenta-over-neonicotinoid-pesticides-1.2754441.

Canadian beekeepers are suing the makers of popular crop pesticides for more than $400 million in damages, alleging that their use is causing the deaths of bee colonies.

The proposed class action lawsuit was filed Tuesday in the Ontario Superior Court on behalf of all Canadian beekeepers by Sun Parlor Honey Ltd. and Munro Honey, two of Ontario’s largest honey producers, the Ontario Beekeepers Association announced Wednesday.

“The goal is to stop the use of the neonicotinoids to stop the harm to the bees and the beekeepers,” said Paula Lombardi, a lawyer with London, Ont.-based law firm Siskinds LLP, which is handling the case.

As of Thursday morning, more than 30 beekeepers had signed on to participate in the class action.

The lawsuit alleges that Bayer Cropscience Inc. and Syngenta Canada Inc. and their parent companies were negligent in their design, manufacture, sale and distribution of neonicotinoid pesticides, specifically those containing imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiomethoxam.

The pesticides, which are a neurotoxin to insects, are widely coated on corn, soybean and canola seeds in Canada to protect the plants from pests such as aphids. Studies have shown that bees exposed to the pesticides have smaller colonies, fail to return to their hives, and may have trouble navigating. The pesticides were also found in 70 per cent of dead bees tested by Health Canada in 2013.

The European Commission restricted the use of the pesticides for two years and Ontario has indicated it will move toward regulating them, due to concerns over bee health.

Bayer maintains that the risk to bees from the pesticide is low, and it has recommended ways that farmers can minimize bees’ exposure to the pesticide.

Both Bayer and Syngenta told CBC News they wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit because they haven’t yet been served with it.

The lawsuit is seeking more than $400 million in damages, alleging that as a result of neonicotinoid use:

  • The beekeepers’ colonies and breeding stock were damaged or died.
  • Their beeswax, honeycombs and hives were contaminated.
  • Their honey production decreased.
  • They lost profits and incurred unrecoverable costs, such as increased labour and supply costs.

Beekeepers or companies involved in beekeeping services such as honey production, queen bee rearing and pollination who are affected and want to join the lawsuit are asked to contact Lombardi.

The Ontario Beekeepers Association is not directly involved in the lawsuit, but along with the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, helped connect beekeepers with the law firm. The association also helped with the research for the lawsuit.

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Connect Me

Melbourne was recently named the most liveable city in the world, based on health care, education, stability, culture, environment and infrastructure (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-19/melbourne-worlds-most-liveable-city-for-the-fourth-year-running/5681014). Infrastructure? Obviously one of the things they did not look at was Melbourne’s connectivity to the internet.

My son is currently travelling through South and Central America. Before he left I asked him to send us a text or email every week or so, just to let us know he is alive. He has, in fact, been communicating via Facebook almost every single day because he has free wifi almost everywhere he goes including such technological hotspots like Manaus, Cuzco, Bogota and Quito. He even sent me a message from a bus in the middle of nowhere in Mexico. I could not believe it. The bus had internet?!

Meanwhile, I live on the outskirts of Melbourne, barely ten kilometres from the nearest town, and it is almost impossible for me to get connected. None of our major providers can reach me which, based on the government’s promise that no child shall live without internet, means that I could qualify for a subsidised satellite. Unfortunately I did finally find someone who could provide me with internet because I live on a hill and have line of sight with their transmitting tower. This required an outrageously expensive installation followed by outrageously expensive internet, providing remarkably few gigabytes that is usually too slow to watch the ice hockey and drops out with annoying regularity. Our neighbour, who lives down in the valley, did qualify for the subsidised satellite. The only thing that makes me feel better is that their internet is no better than ours.

In case you are interested, and before the internet drops out again, below is a list of the world’s top ten liveable cities. If you have any interest in technology, avoid all the Australian ones. I have always liked Canada: good skiing, ice hockey, Tim Hortons and a functioning affordable internet.

Dr. F. Bunny

Most liveable cities:

  1. Melbourne, Australia
  2. Vienna, Austria
  3. Vancouver, Canada
  4. Toronto, Canada
  5. Adelaide, Australia
  6. Calgary, Canada
  7. Sydney, Australia
  8. Helsinki, Finland
  9. Perth, Australia
  10. Auckland, New Zealand

As an aside, it has taken me over an hour to get enough functional internet just publish this post.

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Be A Sport

Two of the most over rated jobs in the world must be sports commentator and accountant. I’ll get to the accountants next time but, with the winter Olympics having recently ended, it seems prudent to take a look at the hallowed sports commentator who, presumably, is flown to the relevant sporting venue, put up in a hotel and paid a sum of money for us to hear their learned and informed opinions and, more importantly, predictions about the future. Unfortunately, despite the countless hours spent watching games (disguised as work), researching statistics and interviewing players, coaches and other hangers on they have no better idea about what’s happening than I do.

This was brought home to me in the bronze medal ice hockey game between USA and Finland. Almost no one gave Finland a chance to win this game. The USA would bounce back from their hard fought semi-final defeat against the Canadians and stroll away with the bronze. Easy. In fact, Finland won the game 5-0. I also thought the USA would win. Why aren’t I getting paid to fly to Russia to voice my opinion when it’s certainly no worse than those who are?

I can appreciate the valuable information about trades, injuries and other sporting news commentators impart but, when it comes to making predictions about future winners, be it ice hockey, AFL, soccer (I wonder how many picked Olympiacos to beat Manchester United in their latest Champion’s League game) or any other sport, they don’t seem to be any better at getting it right than anyone else. I suspect if I got my veterinary diagnoses wrong as often as their sporting predictions I would very quickly find myself out of a job.

Dr. F. Bunny

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Urban Bees Using Plastic To Build Hives

From http://www.uoguelph.ca/news/2014/02/post_261.html.

February 11, 2014 – News Release

Once the snow melts, Canada’s bee population will be back in business — pollinating, making honey and keeping busy doing bee things. For at least two urban bee species, that means making nests out of plastic waste.

A new study by a University of Guelph graduate and a U of G scientist reveals that some bees use bits of plastic bags and plastic building materials to construct their nests. The research was published recently in the journal Ecosphere.

The study has been reported on by media outlets around the world, including the Toronto Star, Sun News, CBS News, Yahoo! News, United Press International, and Canoe News.

It’s an important discovery because it shows bees’ resourcefulness and flexibility in adapting to a human-dominated world, says lead author Scott MacIvor, a doctoral student at York University and a 2008 U of G graduate.

“Plastic waste pervades the global landscape,” said MacIvor. Although researchers have shown adverse impacts of the material on species and the ecosystem, few scientists have observed insects adapting to a plastic-rich environment, he said.

“We found two solitary bee species using plastic in place of natural nest-building materials, which suggests innovative use of common urban materials.”

Figuring out that the bees were using plastic in place of natural materials took some detective work by U of G’s Andrew Moore, supervisor of analytical microscopy at Laboratory Services.

Moore analyzed a grey “goo” that MacIvor discovered in the nests of one kind of bee, Megachile campanulae, which uses plant resins to build its nests,

“Scott thought it might be chewing gum originally,” Moore said. His team uses a scanning electron microscope to take highly detailed pictures of items, x-ray microanalysis to determine the elements in the sample and infrared microscopy to identify polymers. They can distinguish the finest detail on the surface of an animal hair.
Turns out that M. campanulae was occasionally replacing plant resins with polyurethane-based exterior building sealant, such as caulking, in its brood cells–created in a nest to rear larvae.

The researchers also discovered another kind of bee, Megachile rotundata, an alfalfa leafcutter, was using pieces of polyethylene-based plastic bags to construct its brood cells. The glossy plastic replaced almost one-quarter of the cut leaves normally used to build each cell.

Markings showed that the bees chewed the plastic differently than they did leaves, suggesting that the insects had not incidentally collected plastic. Nor were leaves hard to find for the bees in the study.

“The plastic materials had been gathered by the bees, and then worked – chewed up and spit out like gum – to form something new that they could use,” Moore said.

In both cases, larvae successfully developed from the plastic-lined nests.  In fact, the bees emerged parasite-free, suggesting plastic nests may physically impede parasites, the study said.

The nests containing plastic were among more than 200 artificial nest boxes monitored by MacIvor as part of a large-scale investigation of the ecology of urban bees and wasps, a project involving numerous citizen scientists.

The nest boxes are located in Toronto and the surrounding region in backyards, community gardens and parks and on green roofs. They are used by a variety of bee species.

“The novel use of plastics in the nests of bees could reflect the ecologically adaptive traits necessary for survival in an increasingly human-dominated environment,” MacIvor said.

Contact:

Andrew Moore Laboratory Services andrewm@uoguelph.ca 519-823-1268, Ext. 57234

Scott MacIvor jsmacivor@gmain.com 416-844-8093

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