U.S. insecticide plan lacking, say beekeepers

DRESDEN, Ont. — Beekeepers in the United States and Ontario face similar challenges from neonicotinoid insecticides, according to the president of the American Beekeeping Federation.

They’re a major concern, perhaps the top concern, in both jurisdictions, Tim Tucker said. The difference is in how his organization and the Ontario Beekeepers Association have responded to the issue.

“Most of the big beekeepers here don’t want to offend agriculture by siding with the environmental whackos,” Tucker said in an interview.

In Ontario, the OBA originally supported an outright ban on the insecticides but has since softened its position, asking only for the end of prophylactic use of the insecticides.

The U.S. federation has no formal position on the matter, but Tucker has repeatedly said he supports a shift to the targeted use of the neonicotinoid insecticides.

Other federation directors have not opposed those statements, he added.

“I think definitely a use like that, when most of the pesticide doesn’t end up where it’s intended to go, isn’t the best use of it,” he said.

Tucker’s comments came in the wake of the release of a White House plan to address honeybee and pollinator concerns. It sets an ambitious target of reducing colony over-wintering losses to no more than 15 percent within 10 years.

The strategy calls for more re-search, broad improvements to provide better pollinator habitat and further study and a review of neo-nicotinoids and other pesticides.

“We feel that the report, the strategy, in a lot of respects is a good thing, but a lot people feel it didn’t go far enough by suggesting a ban on neonics or at least a ban on the prophylactic use of neonics,” Tucker said.

He said the lack of action to address the problem is likely political.

“The big money runs the Senate and the House through the electoral process. The regulatory process is controlled by the political process.”

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