Attempting to save the bees

Costco asks suppliers to drop neonicotinoids

Costco has updated its international policy for their suppliers, encouraging them to phase out the use of neonicotinoids (commonly called neonics), a synthetic insecticide that some scientists link to the diminishing numbers of bees.

The policy is an updated version of the one released in June 2016, with added mentions of integrated pest management and expanding the scope to include live goods, fruits and vegetables. The 2016 policy only extended to live plants.

Tom Congdon, a beekeeper in Cottam, Ontario, claims his bee colonies have decreased by about 40 per cent from where they used to be and the bees are having trouble surviving the winter. Their wintering mortality rate is at about 30 percent in recent years. It used to be around 5 percent.

According to Ontario's Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, the rate that's considered acceptable and sustainable by beekeepers is around 15 percent.

In a report by the federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), it says approximately 70 percent of the dead bees found in 2012 and 2013 tested positive for neonicotinoid residue.

The chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association crop protection section says it's habitat loss that is causing their decline, not neonics. Charles Stevens, whose apples are sold to Costco, pointed to the drop in apple tree acreage as an example, saying Ontario has lost half the apple trees it used to have 45 years ago, when he first started farming apples.


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