Park Board Buying Neonic Free Plants Only | Vancouver park board institutes pesticide ban to help save honeybees

Randy Shore Oct 28/14

Vancouver’s park board will no longer plant or purchase plants treated with a class of pesticides implicated in honeybee die-offs after passing a motion Monday night.

Neonicotinoids — widely known as neonics — are a class of pesticide sometimes used to protect nursery plants from damage by sap-sucking and leaf-chewing insects. Their main use is in the food system, where they are used to treat corn and soybean seed in large-scale agriculture.

“The park board has a limited jurisdiction, but one thing that we can so is help set industry standards, because we such a big purchaser and we cover so much green space,” said commissioner Niki Sharma, who introduced the motion. “So we will not be buying from suppliers that cannot demonstrate that their products are neonic-free and we won’t be using any in our system.”

The neonic ban is part of the roll-out of the board’s Pollinator Project, which facilitates the creation of landscapes and gardens in the park system that are friendly to honeybees, butterflies and other pollinating insects, said Sharma.

Honeybees are in sharp decline along with other pollinators and the research is pretty solid pointing to neonics as part of the reason for the decline,” she said. “We want to do what we can in our system to help recervse that.”

The new policy does not prevent nurseries from selling seeds or plants treated with neonics to their retail customers in Vancouver.

A study released earleir this year by Friends of the Earth Canada found that half of the “bee-friendly” plants purchased in B.C. nurseries tested positive for neonics.

“This is the first municipality to take this step and we hope that others will follow,” Sharma said. “Municipalities can have a powerful voice when it comes to setting these standards because we do so much procurement.”

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