Why Killing Bees Means Less Food on Your Table
Originally posted on Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/mike-schreiner/bee-kills_b_5960464.html on October 10,2014.
I love eating local food and supporting Ontario farmers. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to share the local harvest with family and friends.
Now imagine what your table would look like without 35% of the world's crops, including my favourite pumpkin pie. My kids may not miss the brussels sprouts, but they would be upset if we couldn't pick apples at Giffen's Orchard in Glen Huron this weekend.
Regrettably, this is the reality we face if massive bee kills continue. 37 million bees died in Ontario last year. Beekeepers lost 58% of their bees this past winter.
Bee kills are a crisis that directly affects our food supply. Busy bees not only produce honey, they also pollinate 87 of the leading 115 global food crops.
This is serious business. It is estimated that pollinators generate $213 billion worth of economic value worldwide each year.
There are many factors contributing to massive bee kills: climate change, habitat loss, mites. But increasingly, scientist are pointing the finger at pesticides known as neonicotinoids. Growing evidence linking neonicotinoids to bee kills prompted the European Union to ban them.
Ontario's Environmental Commissioner entered the debate this week warning that neonicotinoids are more dangerous than DDT.
We cannot afford another "Silent Spring." Or in this case an empty table?
Unfortunately, Premier Wynne prefers to talk about the problem rather than take action to solve it. Her response to the crisis: throw some money at beekeepers (certainly welcome given their economic losses) and form a task force on bee health that continues to drag its feet on taking action.
Meanwhile, millions of bees continue to die.
I love food too much to risk losing a third of it. And I like the 740,000 jobs and $40 billion in economic benefits the food and farming sector provides Ontario.
That's why I'm pushing the Ontario government to ban the use of neonicotinoid pesticides until peer-reviewed scientific research can definitively determine that neonicotinoids do not harm bees.
When you sit down to enjoy Thanksgiving this weekend, please thank our farmers. But also take a moment to thank bees.