Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)Published on September 22, 2014
Editor: In response to John Jamieson’s letter to the editor: A shill, by definition, is one who publicly helps a person or organization without disclosing that they have a close relationship with the person or organization. A search of ‘Dr. Joe Schwarcz and Monsanto’ brings up plenty of articles citing that the The Council for Biotechnology Information has funded McGill University’s Office for Chemistry. Who, one might ask, is on this council? BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto Company and Syngenta. As such, it isn’t hard to understand why anyone would assume him biased. In reality, his department is funded by far more biotech companies that just Monsanto.
There are innumerable studies on the harm caused to humans by pesticide use. There are as many scientists who will argue against their safety as there is who will argue for it. The Canadian Cancer Society states that ‘If chemical spraying is needed, people must be warned about the risks and helped to protect vulnerable family members such as infants, elderly people and people with weak immune systems.’ And that ‘Widespread chemical spraying should be used only as a last option to protect human health and safety.’ The Society believes that when pesticides are needed to protect our health, safety or food supply, they should be part of a plan that includes pest prevention, using pesticides in the lowest amounts possible and using safer choices.
To be fair, Ms. Diamond was commenting on an article The Guardian has published. I see no reason that anyone needs to attend an event to do so. Unless he feels the article unfairly represented the speaker he brought in, (in which case, his issue is with the paper, not Ms. Diamond) I’m not sure what his objection is. Incredulously, John Jamieson followed up a personal attack on her with the line ‘When people do not like the message and can’t come up with a scientifically based response, they attack the creditability of the messenger.’ I find this incredibly pharisaical, and I suspect I am not the only one.
Sarah’s most rewarding work during this time was with Ontario's Cosmetic Pesticide Ban in 2009 that prohibits the use of pesticides on lawns, parks, gardens and schoolyards. Sarah helped to develop fact sheets and resources for Ontarians to better understand the ban. She also interacted directly with pesticide manufacturers to educate them on the policies of the ban and which of their products would be affected. Sarah feels gratified to have been a part of such a significant environmental achievement. Studies completed after the ban have already revealed reductions of certain lawn care products in waterways.
Sarah continues to work for the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and is now a supervisor at the Environmental Monitoring and Reporting Branch. Sarah’s work has a huge impact on environmental policy and program development and continues to support her passion for environmental protection.
Concerned About Bees and Bee Health?
August 29, 2014 / admin / Comments Off
Written by: by Dianne Dowling, president, National Farmers Union Local 316 (Kingston and Counties of Frontenac and Lennox-Addington)
“Approximately three-quarters of all plant species — including at least 90 agricultural crops — require insects, birds or bats for pollination. Healthy pollinator populations are necessary for food security and for ecosystem integrity,” states an article in the May/June, 2013, edition of the National Farmers Union (NFU) publication, Union Farmer Newsletter.
Pollinators are already adversely affected by habitat loss, introduced diseases and climate change, but recently, headlines have been about neonicotinoids (neonics, for short), a pesticide that has been linked to bee deaths.
In July, the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturalists reported that 58% of bee colonies in Ontario did not survive last winter. The average for Canada was 25% with Ontario’s losses the highest and Alberta the lowest at 18.5%. Many beekeepers and a growing number of bee researchers believe the neonics are weakening bees, making them more vulnerable to viruses, parasites and loss of food supply.
In Ontario, seed pre-treated with neonics are used on almost 100% of the corn and canola acres, 80% of the soybean acres and 35% of the wheat acres. Meanwhile crop researchers estimate the treatment is needed on only 10 to 20% of corn and soybean acreages.