The Pesticide company lobby and disinformation.

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In the past few days I have seen a flurry of activity in agriculture circles regarding the restrictions the Province of Ontario has placed on neonicotinoids.

The first one I saw came from the corporate watchdog SumofUS entitled “We have to hold Bayer to account for its misdeeds“. They point to a research paper (PDF) by Friends of the Earth, which examines how Bayer, Monsanto and Syngenta are spending millions hiring marketing and lobby consultants to create doubt in the public’s mind regarding the effects of their products on honey bees. According to these articles the companies are using:

“Tobacco Style Tactics which mislead the public about the danger of their products by manufacturing and magnifying uncertainty about the cancer risk of cigarettes”

Their marketing plays up the role of Bee pests such as Varroa mite and downplays how neonicotinoids are damaging Bee populations.

followthehoney

In short, the paper points out how much Bayer and company have to lose by the Ontario regulations, and also how they are trying to spin how they are “helping the Bees” with their other products such as “Check Mite” which is a miticide used by some beekeepers.

They point out some interesting facts IMHO. I was a little skeptical, since there is a good amount of bias on both sides of the “neonics” argument. Full Disclosure, we at Ames don’t believe that neonicotinoids are the definitive and sole cause of CCD or the massive Honey bee deaths we have been experiencing. However we do believe they are a contributing (and preventable) factor in the bee decline. In addition, there are treatments for mites, actions to be taken in bad weather. What can a beekeeper do to stop pesticide exposure?…

What made this paper and the SumofUS article more interesting was this letter to the editor in the Guelph Mercury newspaper today

Nikki Everts-Hammond wrote. “I want to respond to an advertisement published in the Mercury on Jan. 31 entitled “An Open Letter to Ontarians.”

Let’s be clear: “An Open Letter to Ontarians” is an advertisement. This means that, unlike journalists who have to include all of the important facts, the purchasers of this advertising space got to pick which bits of information to include and which to exclude.

The ad hopes to convince you that restricting neonicotinoids “will not benefit honey bees.” There is nothing in the advertisement to prove this and much left out of the ad that would suggest otherwise.”

So apparently the disinformation machine is already hard at work in the heart of Canada’s Agricultural sector.

The Better Farming journal backs this up, stating that these pharmas spent over $350,000 Canadian for this and other ads like it across Ontario. Even putting one in the reputable national newspaper the Globe and Mail.

betterfarming

click to read

 

Many beekeepers and farmers were simply appalled, as were we. The Ontario Beekeepers association released a response to these ads which nicely takes issues with the points raised in the advertisement.

ontbeekeepresponse

click to read

I believe this style of advertising is not only unethical and subversive, but downright dangerous. Clearly the interested parties are willing to do all it takes to protect their profits. And if it takes down a few million bees with it, that’s perfectly alright.

In my eyes this is not giving any credibility to the argument that these pesticides are not a major cause of colony collapse, quite the opposite. In time research will tell, but Ontario isn’t going to wait, hopefully other provinces in Canada and states in the United States will do the same!

 

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