Death of the Bees: Canadian Beekeepers’ Lawsuit Against Bayer, Syngenta Over Bee-Killing Neonicotinoid Pesticides

Global Research, September 29, 2014

Honey-Bee-On-Flower-Pollin-400x225Canadian beekeepers have filed a class-action lawsuit against two pesticide manufacturers, seeking $400 million in damages for the devastating effects of the neonicotinoid pesticides that have been linked to the destruction of honeybee colonies.

“The goal is to stop the use of the neonicotinoids to stop the harm to the bees and the beekeepers,” said Paula Lombardi, a lawyer with Siskinds LLP, the law firm that is handling the case.

The lawsuit was filed in the Ontario Superior Court on September 2 by two of the largest honey producers in Ontario, Sun Parlor Honey Ltd. and Munro Honey. The next day, the Ontario Beekeepers Association publicly announced the lawsuit and invited other beekeepers to join in. By September 4, more than 30 beekeepers had already signed on.

Bee colonies devastated

The neonicotinoids, which include imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, are systemic pesticides applied to seeds prior to planting. The neurotoxic chemicals then coats the plant, making the entire thing poisonous. This means that birds or insects that visit the plant for nectar or pollen are also poisoned.

“The plants become poison not only for the insects that farmers are targeting, but also for beneficial insects like bees,” said Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Numerous studies have shown that bees exposed to neonicotinoids experience trouble navigating, are more likely to fail to return to their hives, and have smaller colonies than non-exposed bees. In a 2013 study by Health Canada, 70 percent of all dead bees tested positive for exposure to neonicotinoids.

In response to these concerns, the European Commission has restricted the use of neonicotinoids for two years, and Ontario has announced plans to regulate them more tightly.

In the lawsuit, the beekeepers accuse Bayer CropScience Inc., Syngenta Canada Inc. and their parent companies of negligence in the design, manufacture, sale and distribution of the pesticides. The lawsuit claims that the negligent behavior of the companies has directly resulted in damage or death to bee colonies and breeding stock; contamination of beeswax, honeycomb and beehives; decreases in honey production; lost profit; and increased labor and supply costs. The plaintiffs are seeking $400 million in damages.

A global crisis

Over the past 20 years, neonicotinoids have become among the most popular of all pesticide varieties. In recent years, researchers have raised concerns that they may be a primary factor behind colony collapse disorder (CCD), a phenomenon marked by honeybees abandoning their hives and dying during the winter. Because honeybees pollinate a third of the entire global food supply — 130 different crops, valued at $15 billion per year — CCD has caused alarm at high levels of government and industry.

A pair of studies conducted by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Worcester County Beekeepers Association decisively linked neonicotinoids to CCD. The researchers found that exposing bees to neonicotinoids induced CCD in the majority of beehives over the winter, while non-exposed bees did not experience CCD. The researchers suggested that, in part, neonicotinoids may cause CCD by making bees more vulnerable to cold.

But it’s not just honeybees that are affected by neonicotinoid poisoning; because the pesticides are systemic, any animal that even visits a treated crop may be affected. According to a comprehensive international review published in June 2014, neonicotinoids are severely damaging ecological integrity worldwide, on a scale comparable to the damage done by DDT prior to the 1970s.

Shockingly, there is no evidence that neonicotinoids are even particularly beneficial for farmers.

“We have been using these things for 20 years and there’s not a single study that shows they increase yield,” said researcher Dave Goulson of the University of Sussex, England. “If they don’t benefit yield we should stop using them.”

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    An ILL-ADVISED class-action-lawsuit has been filed by lawyers representing anti-pesticide and litigious bee-keepers to recover alleged damages suffered due to neonicotinoid insecticides used by the agriculture industry since 2006. Observers predict that the litigious bee-keepers will LOSE THIS LAWSUIT, and will NOT RECOVER ANY LOSSES AND DAMAGES. The lawsuit will fail to prove that ONLY neonicotinoid insecticides were to blame for bee losses. According to leading expert Dr Ernesto Guzman, neonicotinoid poisoning is, of course, a factor, but it is NOT the only factor. The bee-keeper lawsuit will also fail to avoid the fact that there is no bee crisis caused by neonicotinoid insecticides, since only a very limited number of bee-keepers have reported losses. The lawsuit will prove that bee-keepers were simply negligent and incompetent with their management practices. It will prove that they failed to perform due diligence to control varroa mites, nosema fungus, tobacco ringspot virus, and other pests that damage bees. The real causes of bee mortality are these pests that bee-keepers appear to be unable or unwilling to properly control. They would rather lay false blame against neonicotinoid insecticides. The bee-keeper lawsuit will fail to prove that there is even a bee crisis with neonicotinoid insecticides. There is no such bee crisis according to leading experts like Dr Ernesto Guzman, who has stated that there is evidence that varroa mites are the primary problem associated to bee losses in southern Ontario, and neonicotinoid insecticides have been associated to only some isolated cases of colony losses. The bee-keeper lawsuit will even fail to prove that there is any bee crisis at all. There is no bee crisis according to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who has stated that many bee-keeping operations have NOT been affected and have been able to maintain strong and healthy bee colonies, as evidenced by hive strength and honey production. There is no bee crisis according to Statistics Canada, which has stated that the number of honey bee colonies are up, and NOT down, in the province of Ontario and across Canada. The bee-keeper lawsuit will be unable to explain that the Canadian Honeybee Industry is actually thriving, with the total number of bee-keepers in Canada actually rising dramatically since 2008. The lawsuit will be unable to explain that Canada’s honey yield is twice the world’s average. It will be unable to explain why Canadian Honey Council actively opposes prohibition against neonicotinoid insecticides. The bee-keeper lawsuit will be unable to contradict the fact that there is no bee crisis caused by neonicotinoid insecticides. The lawsuit will fail to prove that bee-keepers did NOT tamper with the samples provided to Health Canada which measured some detectable insecticide ingredient. It will also fail to prove that the mere ability to measure or detect the presence of insecticide ingredient in a bee colony is NOT an indication that it harmed bees. The lawsuit will also fail to explain why bee-keepers are violating federal law by using illegal and unregistered products to control bee pests. Observers have consistently pointed out to how much profit the anti-pesticide bee-keepers will make if they succeed in a class-action lawsuit. They appear motivated by mere profit and greed. There is no bee crisis with neonicotinoid insecticides, and THE LAWSUIT WILL FAIL ! However, there IS a bee crisis with negligent and incompetent bee-keepers. Even if the class-action lawsuit is somehow successful, we would still have bee losses because many bee-keepers are NOT competent to manage their hives. Let the litigious and anti-pesticide bee-keepers face the spotlight of scrutiny and the terror of the courts. For more information about the ONTARIO BEE-KEEPER CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT, go to The Pesticide Truths Web-Site … NORAHG is the National Organization Responding Against HUJE that seek to destroy the Green space industry. WILLIAM H GATHERCOLE AND NORAH G Get the latest details at


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