From FCC Express, by Owen Roberts
A broad range of 13 options have been identified for better bee health by a working group in Ontario — although banning neonicotinoids is not on the list.
The 33-member group, representing the apiary sector, research institutions, grain growers, agri-business and government, were tasked with reducing the risks to honey bees from neonicotinoid seed treatments exposure ahead of spring planting.
An outright ban of neonicotinoids was being urged by some parts of the agri-food sector.
But in its report submitted to Ontario premier and agriculture and food minister Kathleen Wynne last week, the group instead suggests a range of options for better bee health.
The group recognizes no single option may fully address the issue, says chairperson Deb Sikora, assistant deputy minister, ?food safety and environment division of Ontario ministry of agriculture and food.
“Each option should be considered as a potential component of a suite of options available to mitigate risks to bees,” Sikora says.
The Canadian apiary sector is concerned about fluctuating mortality rates that climbed as high as 43 per cent in 2011, but fell to 12 per cent — below the 15 per cent average — in 2012.
Sikora says the need to reduce risks to honey bees from neonicotinoid seed treatments is recognized by all parties. But they weren’t prepared to recommend a ban.
“Whether or not neonicotinoids contributed to this overwintering mortality has not been determined,” the group writes in the report.
In the report, Sikora says that given the divergent opinions held by members on the issues associated with bee health and potential impact of neonicotinoid treated seeds, “it was recognized that consensus would not be possible in all cases.
The 13 options cover a range of actions. They include improvements to growing practices and communications, environmental enhancements, technology advancements and training as well as regulatory approaches.
Some options have already been implemented, such as improving and promoting best management practices and developing a bee yard/field identifier application.