Letters to the editor – January 9, 2020

Neonics report questioned

Re: “Wetland data may point to lower neonic risk,” (WP, Dec. 6, 2019).

Recently, The Western Producer ran a news report that gives an industry lobby group a platform to cast doubt upon widely accepted scientific opinion on the environmental risks of neonicotinoid use. In the article, the vested-interest position of the Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA), backed up by some dubious science they and neonic developer Bayer paid for, was presented without any corresponding response from independent researchers. Moreover, the report never once questioned the validity of research conducted without academic or public accountability and sponsored by an industry association and the chemical company with the most to gain.

Teaming up with Bayer, which makes billions of dollars selling neonics, the CCGA paid for a study that sampled 17 wetlands surrounded by canola fields in Western Canada. The article provides a legitimizing forum for the unqualified statements of the CCGA, with their spokesman interpreting the results and confusing matters by implying that there have been no other actual field studies conducted in prairie canola fields and that the concerns about neonics came from models based entirely on research done in Ontario corn fields and then applied to Western Canada’s canola-dominated fields.

This is false and it is unacceptable for The Western Producer to transmit such misinformation to the public without checking facts or seeking scientific opinion on research that is so clearly biased.

Perhaps most disturbing of all in the report is the CCGA spokesman’s suggestion that Canadian taxpayers should be funding this kind of biased research: “Government needs to come to the table and find a way to collect this data. Farmers can’t fund this forever.” 

The Canadian Environmental Protection Act makes it clear that, in Canada, the polluter pays. While governments certainly need to improve their regulation of these harmful chemicals, it is unreasonable to expect Canadian taxpayers to pay for the monitoring and remediation of pollution coming from chemicals produced and sold by some of the most profitable multi-nationals on the planet.

Finally, it is disappointing to see farmer-based organizations like the CCGA teaming up with pesticide manufacturers in what is a clear attempt to draw attention away from the well-established science demonstrating that these chemicals are toxic at very low concentrations and frequently occur in water.

Perhaps these are the sorts of tactics that contribute to growing public distrust of what should be one of the most honourable of human endeavors: growing food.

Trevor Herriot

Regina, Sask.

Unharvested acres need payout

Our farm is one of the fortunate ones to have the 2019 crop in the bin. So now it’s business as usual: sell grain, pay bills, fix equipment, plan for the new year, etc.

But on the flip side, when I see the neighbour’s crop that is still out, not harvested, one can’t help but wonder how he and the many others in the same situation (very little grain to sell) will pay bills, fix equipment, plan for the new year, etc.

Would it be too much to ask for maybe a cash pay-out from the government of say $150 per unharvested acre?

Ben M. Tschetter 

Wanham, Alta.

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