Two Canadian honey producers have filed a class-action lawsuit against Bayer’s agro-chemical unit and Syngenta Canada Inc. seeking to recover $450 million in damages for a serious decline in the bee population they contend is tied to the manufacture and use of neonicotinoid pesticides. Sun Parlor Honey Ltd. and Munro Honey, both Ontario-based honey producers, filed the lawsuit on behalf of all Canadian beekeepers. It’s alleged in the suit that that the pesticide manufacturers and their parent companies were negligent in the development, sale, and distribution of neonicotinoids. The Plaintiffs seek $400 million as compensation for business losses resulting from neonicotinoid-induced environmental damages and an additional $50 million in punitive damages.
Sun Parlor, which has been producing honey in Canada for nearly a century, states it has lost more than $2.1 million from 2006 through 2013 because of “colony collapse disorder,” which is the name given to the wholesale death of entire bee populations in recent years. Munro Honey says it has lost more than $3 million during the same period. Other beekeepers and honey produces have reported even sharper losses of up to 50 percent.
The business losses correlate to the decline in bee populations, not just in Canada, but in the rest of North America and other parts of the world. Neonicotinoids, which studies have clearly shown to be up to 10,000 times more toxic to bees than DDT, are banned in Europe. Neonicotinoids, which make up about 40 percent of the pesticide market, have killed off an estimated 35 percent of honey bees in Canada in the last three years alone, according to research published by the Canadian Honey Council.
It should be noted that beekeepers and honey producers aren’t the only ones who suffer from the collapse of bee colonies. The decline of bees will have a devastating impact on agriculture and the North American food supply because bees pollinate crops. The damage caused by the decline in bees will certainly ripple throughout the economy. In a 2013 Health Canada Study, 70 percent of dead bees tested by researchers had neonicotinoid pesticide in them.
In 2012, a study led by Purdue University found high concentrations of the pesticides wherever it found bee deaths throughout Indiana. Numerous other studies have shown that neonicotinoids used to spray fields of soybean and corn have permeated the environment and the bees. Julie White of the Ontario Beekeepers Association had this to say in an interview with The Star Canada:
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.
This is a most serious matter and one that demands attention. We can no longer largely ignore this problem. The damage to our nation’s economy resulting from the destruction of the honey bee population will be huge.
Sources: The Star Canada and CBC