Bee Deaths at Centre of Lawsuit by Honey Producers

Honey makers seek class action lawsuit against pesticide companies, saying toxins such as "neonics" are killing their money-making insects.

September 3, 2014 | Source: The Star | by Rob Ferguson

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Carlos Osorio / Toronto Star Order
The Ontario Beekeepers’ Association says pesticides called neonicotinoids are affecting the nervous systems of bees.

Two major beekeeping firms are spearheading the launch of a $450-million class action lawsuit against two pesticide manufacturers, alleging their products have caused widespread deaths in bee colonies.

A statement of claim filed Wednesday by Sun Parlour Honey and Munro Honey asks Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice to certify a suit against Bayer Inc., its CropScience subsidiary, Syngenta International and its Canadian arm.

At issue is a widely used class of pesticides called neonicotinoids – or “neonics” – which the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association says is a toxin affecting the nervous systems of the insects making honey and pollinating crops.

The pesticide is used to coat soybean and corn seeds and has an “enormous impact,” said Julie White of the OBA, which has been pushing the Ontario government to ban neonics.

“When things get planted the dust goes into the air, it’s systemic as well growing in to the plants and it gets into puddles . . . the bees either get killed in the field or they carry it back to the hive,” she told the Star.

Consultations are underway to determine a way to “target” the use of neonics to areas where there is “demonstrated need,” Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal said in a statement.

Bayer CropScience said from its Calgary office that the company has not been served with the suit and is “unable to answer any specific questions.”

The parent companies of Bayer and Syngenta are in Europe.