OTTAWA - A group of international scientists has completed the only global study of neonicotinoid pesticides and concluded there's a definitive link between its use and the deaths of bees and other pollinators.
"As independent scientists, we can now say conclusively there is clear evidence of harm sufficient to trigger regulatory action," Madeleine Chagnon, study co-author, told reporters on Parliament Hill on Wednesday.
Calling themselves the Task Force, more than 50 scientists studied the impact of neonicotinoids, not just on insects and animals but on ecosystems.
"Neonics persist for a long time in soil and leach and end up in our waterways," scientist Sydeny Ribaux said. "We are concerned about their large-scale use and impacts on human health and ecosystems."
Task Force scientists said ideally the stuff would be banned, but even if it's use could be restricted to only when needed rather than as a preventative, it would greatly increase chances of bee survival.
Scientist Jean-Marc Bonmatin said roughly 30% of bee populations die annually. If current use of neonics go unmitigated, Bonmatin warned bee extinction is a reality.
But neither farmers nor the companies producing the pesticides are keen on a ban.
Tara Moore, spokesman for supplier Pioneer Seeds, said demand from farmers for seeds not treated with the pesticide is not great.
The Western Producer magazine reported earlier this year that seed suppliers who'd been asked by farmers to supply more untreated seed hadn't resulted in farmers placing significant orders.
"Growers understand the value (this pesticide has) for production," Moore told QMI Agency.
The scientists said pesticide makers' profits are simply too high for them to support a ban.
Bayer, one of the largest producer of neonic pesticides in Canada, wouldn't estimate its annual profit from the pesticides, but cast doubt on the science behind calls for the ban.
"We don't support the need or the background (for a ban)," Bayer spokesman Paul Thiel told QMI Agency.