Sunday, March 25, 2012

Are your seeds poisoning the bees?

Have you heard of "systemic pesticides"? They are in the neonicotinoid family of pesticides, the ones that are implicated in the bee colony collapse. They work by incorporating themselves into the plant’s tissues, turning the plant itself into a tiny poison factory emitting toxin from its roots, leaves, stems, pollen, and nectar. And they persist in the soil for longer than the older generation pesticides.

Now the really shocking part of this pesticide, is that some of the seeds we buy may already contain this pesticide. This means we may be growing and eating food that contains this poison without realizing it. And because the poisons are right through the plant's tissues, they cannot be washed off. The good news is that treated seeds are dyed a distinct colour. Certified organic seeds do not contain systemic pesticides.

France has banned systemic pesticides after French beekeepers complained of massive losses of bee hives in the mid 1990s. Since then, many other countries and regions of the world are banning or trying to ban them. Some non-organic sunflower seeds, bean seeds, and other popular food seeds have been treated with systemic pesticides in order to protect the seeds from rotting as bean seeds do when planted in soil that is too cold, or to protect sunflowers from seed weevils.

While we may find it a little more difficult to grow perfect sunflowers and beans from seeds that are pesticide free, we at least can be sure that the resulting plants will be worth eating and that we are not poisoning the bees and other pollinators in the process. 

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I have been a resident of Coldstream since 1976. I have had 15 years of experience on Council, 3 years as Mayor. As a current Councillor I am working to achieve fair water and sewer rates and to ensure that taxpayers get fair treatment. The current direction regarding water supply is unsustainable and I am doing all I can to get the most cost effective water supply possible.