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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Agriculture and Forestry

Issue 8 - Evidence - Meeting of April 1, 2014


OTTAWA, Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry met this day at 6:07 p.m. to study the importance of bees and bee health in the production of honey, food and seed in Canada.

Senator Percy Mockler (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: Welcome to the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. I thank the witnesses for accepting our invitation.

My name is Percy Mockler, Senator from New Brunswick and chair of the committee. At this time, honourable senators, I would like you to introduce yourselves.

Senator Mercer: Terry Mercer from Nova Scotia, deputy chair of the committee.

Senator Merchant: Pana Merchant from Saskatchewan. Thank you for your patience with us.

[Translation]

Senator Tardif: Good evening. I am Senator Claudette Tardif from the province of Alberta.

Senator Robichaud: Good evening. I am Senator Fernand Robichaud from Saint-Louis-de-Kent, New Brunswick.

Senator Maltais: Good evening. I am Senator Ghislain Maltais from Quebec.

Senator Dagenais: Good evening, I am Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais from Quebec.

[English]

Senator Buth: JoAnne Buth from Manitoba.

Senator Ogilvie: Kelvin Ogilvie from Nova Scotia.

The Chair: Thank you.

The committee is continuing its study on the importance of bees and bee health in the production of honey, food and seed in Canada.

[Translation]

The Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry has received an order of reference authorizing it to study and report on the importance of bees and bee health in the production of honey, food and seed in Canada.

More specifically, the committee is authorized to study the following topics:

[English]

(a) the importance of bees in pollination to produce food, especially fruits and vegetables, seed for crop production and honey production in Canada;

(b) the current state of the native pollinators, leafcutter and honeybees in Canada;

(c) the factors affecting honeybee health, including disease, parasites, and pesticides in Canada and globally;

(d) strategies for governments, producers and industry to ensure bee health . . .

Honourable senators, today we have the honour of receiving three witnesses: Ms. Kimberley Fellows, Pollinator Outreach Coordinator, Pollination Canada; Mr. John Bennett, National Campaign Director, Sierra Club Canada; and Ms. Gwen Barlee, Policy Director of the Wilderness Committee.

Thank you for accepting our invitation to be here so that you can share with us your ideas, recommendations and thoughts. I invite the witnesses to make their presentations. I remind honourable senators, as per instructions previously given to the witnesses, that their presentations should not exceed more than seven minutes. Following the presentations, a question-and-answer session will take place. Each senator will be given five minutes to ask questions before the chair recognizes another senator. There will be as many rounds of questioning as time allows. During the question-and-answer session, I would ask senators to be succinct and to the point when asking their questions; and I would ask the witnesses to do the same when answering.

The first presenter will be Ms. Kimberley Fellows, to be followed by Mr. John Bennett and Ms. Gwen Barlee.

Ms. Fellows, you have the floor.

Kimberley Fellows, Pollinator Outreach Coordinator, Pollination Canada: Good evening, honourable senators, fellow panelists and all present in the room. It is a pleasure to be here. Your clerk, Mr. Kevin Pittman, informed me that a PowerPoint presentation was not possible, but he let me know that the slides could be printed and distributed to each of you, so you have them for your reference, although they're not in pretty colours.

I'm going to lead you through the basics of pollination and then look into the world of native pollinators — the squash bee in particular. We are going to review the known reasons for bee declines, focusing on neonicotinoid pesticides, and finish by looking at the status of native bees. We hope this will help you understand our three main recommendations: putting a moratorium on neonicotinoids for a minimum of five years; lending support for farm agencies that encourage the principles of ecology and integrated pest management; and lending support for the independent research on all aspects of pollinator health, with a special emphasis on agrochemicals.

As you know, in order for plants to produce seeds or develop into food, pollen grains from the male parts of the flower must make their way to the female parts of the flower. Once the pollen lands on the female parts, other steps lead to the fertilization of seeds and food development. It is this transfer of pollen grains that is termed "pollination."

Of all living creatures, bees outperform the rest by performing 70 per cent of pollination services in our ecosystems. They don't know they're doing it; they're just carrying on, nourishing themselves and their young, by collecting the nectar and pollen.

That covers our pollination basics. Let's have a closer look at the bees.

Maybe you were picturing this beautiful honeybee when I said the word "bee." This particular one has been very busy, if you notice the yellow pollen she has been collecting on her legs. The European honeybee arrived on the shores of Virginia with the colonists around 400 years ago.

Aside from bumblebees, most people are surprised to learn that there are hundreds of native bees in Canada, over 800 of them: mason bees, carpenter bees, leafcutting bees, sweat bees, miner bees and squash bees, to name but a few. They have evolved to fit all kinds of nooks and crannies. They are designed for different flowers, different pollen, different temperatures and flight distances, among other factors. This incredible diversity of native species is crucial, not just for food system resiliency but ecosystem balance. The advantage of being aware of these native bees is that if a grower encourages their presence, they will benefit from natural, free pollination services.

Now we're going to take a closer look at one of our wild bees, the squash bee. Here you are looking at a male squash bee in a pumpkin blossom. Here we're looking at a cornfield that was a pumpkin field the year previous. Pumpkins, cucumbers, squash, melons and zucchini are all part of the Cucurbit family, and the squash bee only eats pollen and nectar of Cucurbit crops.

Up to 70 per cent of native bees nest in the ground, and that includes the squash bee. Here you see the squash bees nesting very close. Sometimes they will nest under the crop they are pollinating, although in this case they are not pollinating corn. I don't mean to confuse you. All the orange flags you see here are marking a nest entrance, the details of which are shown on this inset. You can see a female squash bee with a lot of pollen on her, and she's about to go into her nest.

Another interesting note about our native bees is that most of them are solitary. This means that they are not social like a honeybee colony that lives and works together for the common good. Instead, a native solitary female bee is responsible for tunneling her own nest, as well as collecting and providing the food for herself and her young.

This schematic is showing you what a squash bee nest looks like underground. The female squash bee collects nectar and pollen. She rolls it up into a ball, sometimes called "bee bread," laying an egg on top of that. Then she will seal the cell with soil and move on to the next one. The egg will develop a couple stages further, nourished by the bee bread, and will remain in this stage underground until the following growing season.

The squash bee rises very early, concurrent with the crop blossoms opening. The bees race around collecting pollen and nectar. By at least noon, all the flowers will wilt and close, having done their job; and a new crop of blossoms will occur the next day. You'll find the females in the afternoon busy in their nests, but if you carefully unfold and peek into a squash blossom, you will find some male bees snoozing comfortably. They have spent the morning chasing the girls and drinking nectar, and they're tired and not allowed in the nest. This is a great way to see bees up close because you can even gently put the bee into your hand and watch it wake up, and there's no fear of being stung because the stinging is only done by females; it's an adaptation of the egg-laying apparatus.

In contrast to this squash bee's behaviour, honeybees don't begin to forage for at least an hour after the squash bee rises. Honeybees, given the choice, will shun squash pollen. They don't like it. Squash bees' bodies are better suited for pollinating the squash blossom.

In Ohio, in 2007, a survey of growers found that less than 1 per cent were aware of this native bee that could pollinate squash and pumpkins, and none had heard of the squash bee. However, with outreach and extension, farmers can take advantage of the squash bee's free pollination services.

With that brief glimpse into the world of squash bees, let's look at the reason why we are gathered here and review the multiple stressors that contribute to the decline so prevalent in the honeybee industry. What are the reasons?

Habitat loss has two prongs. Habitat loss decreases the diversity of flowers available. Monoculture is the term for large acreages of one crop, but bees need a continuous variety of floral nutrition throughout the growing season, just like humans need a variety of minerals and vitamins from a rainbow of fresh produce.

Habitat destruction also leads to a loss of nesting and mating sites. If a cornfield is sown right to the margins and there are no field margins left, there's no habitat for the bees to live in. If you didn't already, you now realize that soil tillage can destroy native bees' nests and larvae.

Chemical use contributes to bee declines. We will look more closely at this in a minute.

These above factors, then, act to suppress the immunity of the bees, making them more susceptible to pests and disease predation.

Along with this are climatic shifts. They will take a toll, especially disrupting that timing of the emergence of the blossoms and the bees in the spring.

People like to call this a perfect storm for the bees.

The Chair: Ms. Fellows, I will need to ask you to complete in about 20 seconds because we're overdue. Since we have the documents, the senators have had time to look at it. Would you please conclude in 20 seconds?

Ms. Fellows: Sure. Our three main recommendations are putting a moratorium on neonicotinoids for a minimum of five years; lending support for farm agencies that encourage the principles of ecology and integrated pest management; and, finally, lending support for the independent objective research on all aspects of pollinator health, with a special emphasis on agrochemicals.

The Chair: Ms. Fellows, thank you very much.

Now we will hear Mr. John Bennett, National Campaign Director, Sierra Club Canada.

Mr. Bennett, please, the floor is yours.

John Bennett, National Campaign Director, Sierra Club Canada: Mr. Chairman, honourable senators, I want to thank you for the opportunity to participate in your investigation into bee health.

Sierra Club Canada is one of Canada's oldest environmental organizations. We trace our roots back to the birth of conservation in North America in 1892. We have members and supporters in every province and territory of Canada.

Our organization has been concerned about the use of pesticides for a very long time. We recall Rachel Carson's groundbreaking book, Silent Spring, which alerted us to the perils of putting pesticides to widespread use before we understand their long-term implications. We believed that our society had advanced to a place where we put proper controls there to prevent this ever happening again, but now I have to ask you: Have we?

I've been following your investigation, so I'll be brief and try not to repeat the things you've heard before. I just want to say that we echo the Ontario Beekeepers' Association in calling for a moratorium on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, similar to the action taken about a year ago by the European Union.

It's our understanding of the precautionary principle that government has a responsibility to act when it's clear that a substance may have a negative impact on the environment and that it should prevent a substance from being introduced to the environment when the impact of that substance is not fully understood.

In the case of neonicotinoid pesticides, neither has been done.

The Pest Management Regulatory Agency has been issuing licences to manufacturers of these pesticides without all of the necessary chronic toxicity data and has failed to enforce the Pest Control Products Act, in that it has failed to prevent unacceptable risks to the environment.

Specifically, I want to call your attention to the lack of studies on the chronic toxicity to bees. I have with me today, in my presentation, a list of what are called section 12 notices — and these are issued by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency — in which they have the right to ask for more information. They've been issued and they give conditions for licensing pesticides. There are 31 of these documents that we have uncovered so far. All of them state that more studies need to be done and that more data needs to be provided as a condition of licensing of neonicotinoids.

These studies date back 10 years, and they're still on the market and are still being renewed on a conditional basis. We fail to understand how it is possible that companies can have pesticides licensed without providing all of the toxicity information that's required and then have them renewed, despite the fact that they have not provided those studies yet.

They are all similar to the one I'm going to cite now, which is:

Actara 25WG Insecticide Registration Number 28408 . . .

9.2, Non-Target Terrestrial Invertebrates . . .

Field Studies Details: A study of toxicity . . . to honeybees, including from systemic residues, under field conditions, (monitoring study) is required.

That was asked of this pesticide company in 2004.

Last week, we held a press conference with a number of other groups to publicize our objection to issuing licences for clothianidin because almost the same language is used in saying they need toxicity studies for bees.

My question to you is: How is this possible? How is it possible that we can have a pesticide on the market for 10 years and never see the toxicity studies that are required by law? I would ask you to ask that question of the government in the course of your study. Why are these neonicotinoids still on the market when they fail to provide the basic studies that are required to determine whether or not they're a viable thing to put into the environment?

I'll reiterate: We would hope that in your report you will ask the government to put a ban on the use of neonicotinoids, or at least a moratorium, but, ultimately, these things should be removed from the market until we ultimately know what they do. We should never again put a pesticide on the market on a conditional basis, especially not for an entire decade. Thank you very much.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Bennett.

Gwen Barlee, Policy Director, Wilderness Committee: Thank you very much for inviting the Wilderness Committee, honourable senators, to present on bees. We do have a paper that you should all have before you. I apologize that it is not in French.

One of the things that I'll be concentrating on is neonicotinoids and their impact on bees, but, first, I'll tell you a little bit about the Wilderness Committee. The Wilderness Committee is an environmental organization that was founded in 1980 in British Columbia. We've grown to 30,000 members and another 30,000 supporters right across Canada. Our members and supporters, like many people in Canada, are extremely concerned about what is happening to bees and other wild pollinators.

Some of my friends and people in our office have little gardens outside their apartments or homes. In one case, in particular, they found the squash plant was not being pollinated or bearing fruit. On a personal level, I actually had not heard about neonicotinoids prior to two years ago. I really became concerned about them when 55 flowering lindens were sprayed in a parking lot in Wilsonville, Oregon. They were sprayed with Safari Insecticide. The key ingredient is neonicotinoid. Within three days, there were 50,000 dead bumblebees under those 55 flowering lindens. They had been killed by the neonicotinoids. That shook me to the core.

It's a crisis when a pesticide can be toxic enough to wipe out so many bumblebees just by spraying 55 trees. The incident was not isolated. We have seen the lethal impacts on bees and wild pollinators in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and across Canada. Tens of millions of bees were killed after nearby fields were planted with corn seed treated with neonicotinoid pesticides. Health Canada found that 75 per cent of the dead bees had detectable residues of neonicotinoids insecticides that had been used to treat corn and soybean fields planted nearby.

It was also interesting to talk about how this issue really engages Canadians. When I walked into the Senate building today, I talked to the security guard at the front desk, a gentleman with a red beard. He has a friend who is a beekeeper who lost 100 per cent of his bees in the last year. The friend of the beekeeper, who also had hives, lost 54 per cent of his bees in the last year.

Neonicotinoids are so toxic that by volume they are actually 10,000 times more toxic than DDT. You can find that in the Journal of Applied Ecology in 2013 in a paper by David Goulson. Clothianidin, one of the most toxic neonicotinoids, has the lethal oral dose to give a 50 per cent chance of death among an exposed group of adult honeybees with about 3 nanograms per bee, which is 3 billionths of a gram. You ask: What is a gram? To give an idea of that, this paper weighs 4.5 grams, one fourth of the weight of the paper in neonicotinoids could kill millions of bees.

Another paper from Purdue University in Indiana shows that if a gram of talc, which is used to coat corn seeds, contains 1 per cent clothianidin, it could theoretically kill 1 million bees. Professor Greg Hunt, entomologist and honeybee specialist at Purdue University, said:

Although there may be a pesticide more toxic to honeybees, I am not aware of one.

Even though the acute lethal impacts of neonicotinoids are terrifying, the sublethal impacts are very worrying. That is when the neonicotinoid exposure doesn't kill the bee immediately. It becomes disoriented and has difficulty returning to the hive, which is associated increasingly with colony collapse disorder, and also has reduced foraging efficiency, impaired memory and learning, failure to communicate with other bees in the colony, reduction of breeding success, decrease in metabolic efficiency, and reduction in disease resistance, which also makes bees much more vulnerable to infections.

There is also water table contamination and soil contamination. Most of the neonicotinoids sprayed on plants end up in the soil. It happened recently that a buckwheat crop Canada wanted to send to Japan was contaminated with neonicotinoids and was not accepted by Japan.

There is a tremendous sense of urgency because the corn planting season in Ontario and Eastern Canada is just weeks away. If we look back to 2012 and 2013, we will see that nearly all corn seed was treated with neonicotinoids. We will see millions of bees die with that planting and millions of wild pollinators, like wild bumblebees who do not have human guardians. .

In my 14 years with the Wilderness Committee, I've never seen an issue that resonated so strongly with people. People can see with their own eyes the decline of bees and pollinators. I have people coming up to me and saying that they're seeing fewer and fewer bees in their garden. People are looking to the government and the Senate for leadership on this issue. The Wilderness Committee is calling for neonicotinoids to be banned in Canada because of the profoundly toxic impact they have on honeybees and other wild pollinators.

Senator Mercer: Thank you for your presentations. This is a very important study for a very important industry. There are over 500,000 jobs at stake in Canada in the agricultural sector. It's larger than the automobile sector or any other sector in the economy, so it's not to be trifled with by any of us.

We heard what you said, but I didn't hear a lot of scientific facts. Theoretically, Ms. Barlee, one thing you said was that theoretically it could kill 1 million bees. We need some science behind that to help us make recommendations. With a moratorium for five years, how would we protect the investments of farmers and the necessary yields farmers would have if we were to ban the use of pesticides on the fields?

Ms. Barlee: Thank you for that question, Senator Mercer.

There are some very interesting studies and I would be happy to follow up with the Senate at a later date. They show that yield increases associated with neonicotinoids are very little and sometimes not at all.

Of course, the role that bees and pollinators play in a healthy ecosystem in producing fresh fruits and vegetables cannot be understated. That's worth billions and billions of dollars in Canada. We could move toward integrated pest management and look at what the load is of pests in the fields and whether neonicotinoids need to be used. We'd say they can't be used.

The impact on bees is why the European Union introduced a temporary ban starting in December 2013. There is compelling scientific information that shows how dangerous neonicotinoids are to bees and wild pollinators. The studies done in Italy and Slovenia, I believe, looked at crops that were planted without neonicotinoids and they saw no difference in yield.

Senator Mercer: The other issue we've heard from farmers, equipment manufacturers, et cetera, is about better management and distribution of the neonicotinoids — how they are sprayed and distributed. That includes deflectors on the machines planting the seeds and better management of spraying. If a farmer is going to spray, he could wait for a day when the wind is not blowing or spray at night when the bees are in the hives.

Should we not study that as well as studying what the absence of neonicotinoids would be altogether? We could look at a better management system of spraying, distribution and hive management, because it's not just the farmer that has a responsibility. The person with the bees or the hive owners need to be involved in the management as well.

Mr. Bennett: We've been producing crops for thousands of years without neonicotinoid pesticides. They've only been around for about a decade or so. To suggest that we could not produce enough food without them doesn't make sense in terms of history.

As for science, last summer a minister said that this decision would be based on science in terms of Health Canada. I had an intern Google this and, within 20 minutes, came back with 20 scientific studies from peer-reviewed journals, all concluding about the toxicity of neonicotinoids on bees.

The science is absolutely clear. This is the same argument as climate change: the science is clear. This is a very toxic material; it kills bees. In fact, the government has been asking the industry to provide more science for 10 years, they have not provided it, and the government has allowed it to continue.

There are many ways to keep production going up, but we don't have to use these pesticides prophylactically. They're sprayed on every single seed of corn planted in Ontario. That's 1 million bags of corn seed planted every year, and every single seed is coated.

I talked to a beekeeper a few weeks ago who is also a corn farmer, and he made a special order to the seed company for non-treated seed. He was told two weeks ago, "Sorry, we can't deliver non-treated seed; you'll have to accept the seed treated with neonicotinoids."

How did we get to a point where a farmer has no choice? How did we get to that point? Back a few years ago, when Rogers wanted to give you negative billing and you had to opt out of a service in order not to pay for it, the whole country got up in arms and the government got involved and made them stop. The pesticide companies are doing exactly the same thing, giving a negative option instead of a positive one. It should be an option that you can ask for, not one you have to ask not to receive.

Ms. Fellows: The current agricultural practices are unsustainable, the PMRA has admitted that in September, the way it is going on right now.

The other thing is that this science here is from Dave Goulson's 2013 paper, and this explains the pathways that the neonicotinoids take. If you'll notice the big, fat red arrow here, 96 per cent of them end up in the soil, and they stay and persist there. They can persist there, according to Mr. Goulson, up to 19 years.

Italy has actually had a ban for five years, and their farmers have not suffered any economic hardship, but the reason likely is that there is so much neonicotinoid in the soil right now that it's still offering protection.

This is a great window of opportunity. If you have a moratorium for at least five years, then you can allow the independent, objective research to be done on this. At the same time, basically you've still got crop protection in the soil and yet that also allows a window of opportunity for farm agencies to get outreach and extension on principles of agricultural ecology, as well as integrated pest management.

Senator Buth: Thank you very much for being here this evening.

We've had a lot of varied opinions, let's put it this way, with science on one side and science on the other side. We've had neonics in Canada for the past 15 years. They've been used for the past 15 years and yet we're seeing that severe winter kills have only occurred within about the last seven years.

We have also heard from witnesses that Statistics Canada is reporting the number of honeybee colonies has continued to increase and that for 2013 the number of hives in Canada is the second highest in the past 25 years.

Can I get your comments in terms of the number of years we've had neonicotinoids and essentially the increases that we've seen in terms of honeybee colonies?

Ms. Fellows: Certainly, I would love to answer that.

My guess on the reason for your only seeing these winter kills in the past seven years is that it's the continued selling of the neonicotinoids, the seed dressings, the treatments, on a prophylactic basis. So what happens is no one goes out into the field and tests the threshold for pests that are there. I should not say "no one," but it seems that this is not happening.

What's happening is that fear and anxiety allows the farmers to continue to use these seeds when they don't need to. Again, this is toxic accumulation in the soil. So now you're seeing a lot more of it, and each year it compounds. Each year you get more and more, and I believe that increase would address the winter kills.

Ms. Barlee: Following up on that, there are fairly good numbers in regard to winter kills, and the winter kills across Canada have been in about the 35 per cent range for the last three years, I believe. In some cases on Vancouver Island, near where I am from in Vancouver, you have had kills of 80 per cent. What I think you're seeing, as scientists have shown, is that neonicotinoids are accumulating in the environment and having a more toxic effect on bees.

Because we have more honeybee colonies, I think you have honeybee producers bringing in more bees to offset the bees that have been killed by these pesticides. Our phone was ringing off the hook at the Wilderness Committee when we put out this paper on neonicotinoids and bees. I had a honeybee operator saying, "I lost 50 per cent of my bees last year," or, "I lost 80 per cent of my bees last year." Or, like the security guard at the front door, his friend lost 100 per cent of bees last year.

Normally, for winter kills before 1995, you would have seen between 10 and 15 per cent and that was considered normal. But it's not normal to see bee kills of 35 per cent. And not only bee kills in the winter, but bee kills in the spring, immediately after neonicotinoid-coated seeds have been planted.

Again, Health Canada is showing that over 75 per cent of the bees killed had detectable residues of neonicotinoid insecticide on them. We know that neonicotinoid insecticides are incredibly toxic. I think it's just a matter of what we're going to do about it.

Senator Buth: Have any of your organizations done any research on bees? You are quoting other studies, et cetera. Have you done any independent research, essentially, on bees that has been published?

Ms. Barlee: The Wilderness Committee has mainly referenced studies done by universities across North America and in Europe. We are planning on doing some soil testing this year.

Mr. Bennett: We depend on independent research. We don't have the capability to invest in that kind of research.

Ms. Fellows: Yes, that's the same case for us as well. We have close ties with the former Canadian Pollination Initiative, CANPOLIN, but no studies were undertaken on neonicotinoids.

Senator Buth: Thank you.

Senator Merchant: I thought that we had a witness or witnesses here who said that you could have seed that was not treated if you wanted it.

Senator Tardif: They did.

Senator Merchant: Now, it may be that they are not producing enough untreated seed if everyone were to come out and suddenly say, "We do not want to use the treated seed," but we were told that was an option.

I am not arguing, I'm telling you another side of the coin. Somebody sat there, they had the seeds here to show us, and they said farmers had the option of taking one or the other, but they were mostly opting for the treated seed because it seemed to have higher yields. We get a variety of pieces of information, and in the end we have to weigh one against the other.

In Europe, where they brought forward these bans, I don't know if there is any place where they have done away with the neonics outright, but are they maybe not so involved in agriculture as we are here? I come from Saskatchewan and agriculture is a big thing there. Do you think maybe they have a different perspective and their economies are affected differently?

Ms. Barlee: From the studies that I read, in the European Union study that caused the European Union to have a temporary two-year ban, they looked at agriculture-intensive regions, whether it was Italy or other European Union countries. It was from those studies that they said that they didn't see any negative impact to yield with removing neonicotinoids from the system.

Senator Merchant: It seemed to me our canola farmers said that they had seen a great increase in yield, so we have to weigh both sides.

Ms. Barlee: I'd be happy to follow up with studies on that because there are numerous studies, especially coming out recently, within the last couple of years when there has been such a concern about neonicotinoids, looking at that very issue. Of course, that's how the pesticide companies sell the seed. That's one of the big selling reasons they give to farmers, saying, "Your yield will go way up." However, again, from the studies that I've reviewed, I've either seen the yield not going up at all, or maybe going up 4 per cent. I would definitely be happy to follow up.

Ms. Fellows: I understand that Pioneer only just recently made untreated seed available, on a limited basis, for the spring planting this year. I would say that the people that I know, for example, in the National Farmers Union, do want untreated seed and just cannot find it in the quantities and volumes they need. I think this is something that needs to be addressed as well.

[Translation]

Senator Dagenais: My thanks to our three witnesses for joining us. The population of honeybees, also known as apis mellifera, has decreased by 30 per cent in about 15 years. This is attributed to various causes; one of them is neonicotinoids, but there is also the decrease in flowering plants and the use of chemicals. We have not talked much about the electromagnetic fields — the high tension lines — that we hear a lot about, or about deadly parasites, or competition from exotic bees. There are also substances that kill bees, often pesticide residues, lying hidden in pools of water.

I have named several causes of bee mortality, but I would like to hear what you have to say about corrective measures that could be put in place, if there are any. If not, how do you see the future for bees? We hear a lot about neonicotinoids, but there are a lot of other factors that we are perhaps overlooking.

[English]

Ms. Barlee: Thank you for the question. I agree that there are many other impacts, including climate change, that are affecting our bees and our pollinators. That's definitely the case, but the neonicotinoids are a known risk. The toxicity of neonicotinoids is so high that we know that, if we took it out of the environment and had a moratorium in Canada, we would very likely start to see increasing bee health.

We would start off with saying that we need to have a ban on neonicotinoids, to enable farmers to buy seeds that are untreated with neonicotinoids and to have multiple crop rotation — as Ms. Fellows was talking about earlier, that's also good — to try to maintain habitat diversity and also to include integrated pest management and promotion of organic farming. With integrated pest management, they look at the load of whether it is aphids or potato beetles in the field. If it is a low or medium load, they try not to use pesticides. If it's a high load, they may choose to use pesticides. We'd say again, because neonicotinoids are so extremely toxic to bees, they should not be used.

But it is also interesting that there is some very recent literature, scientific studies that are coming out, showing a horrible synergy between fungicides and neonicotinoids and the comparison between a fungicide and a neonicotinoid pesticide. Neonicotinoid pesticides are dramatically more toxic to bees and other pollinators.

Mr. Bennett: One of the factors you need to consider is that the sublethal doses of these pesticides actually can affect the immune system of the bees so that the other problems — the parasites and the viruses — become more powerful because the bees are weaker. We can do something about damaging their immune system by taking out the pesticide, and then we can get better health of the bees there. So there are other factors, but neonicotinoids not only kill them outright, they also exacerbate the other problems.

Ms. Fellows: I absolutely agree with what Ms. Barlee and Mr. Bennett have said. I really have nothing else to add. These are very toxic, especially the sublethal effects. It really affects their navigation and their ability to collect pollen for their young. Therefore, that affects the next generation. We see a lot of effects here.

Senator Tardif: Thank you for being here this evening. All three of you have called for a moratorium on the use of neonicotinoids. You've mentioned that France has had a moratorium in affect for, I believe, the last few years and that the European Union, as well, called for a moratorium, I believe, as of July 2013, for a period of two years. It may be too soon to see what the results are, but, based on the experience in France with the moratorium and in Italy, do you know if the colonies have come back to a normal state of recovery? Are there studies on that, and what is the situation?

Ms. Fellows: Yes, their bee populations have not been experiencing the same level of mortality.

Senator Tardif: What level of mortality is there?

Ms. Fellows: I don't have the numbers.

Senator Tardif: You don't have those results?

Ms. Fellows: I have the names of the Italian researcher and a French one who would be the people to speak to, and I believe that one of the recommendations from the Ontario Bee Health Working Group, with the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, who happens to be the premier, was to hold a forum, invite those researchers here and find out what is going on.

Senator Tardif: Other comments? No, that's fine.

You mentioned, Ms. Fellows, that two of your recommendations were other than putting a moratorium. They were lending support to farm agencies that used integrated farm management approaches and supporting independent research in the area, I believe, of agrochemicals. Is that correct?

Ms. Fellows: That's right.

Senator Tardif: Could you expand a bit more on those two recommendations?

Ms. Fellows: Absolutely. Lending support for farm agencies that encourage the principles of ecology and integrated pest management would include programs that exist in Ontario, like, Alternative Land Use Services, ALUS. There's also another agency, called Farms at Work, that operates in Peterborough area with Sue Chan.

Alternative Land Use Services is really interesting. It's a program that helps to switch marginal farmland to conservation practices, so farmers are actually rewarded for providing food and living spaces for pollinators to the tune of $150 per acre per year for three years. What we're seeing now is a lot of areas that are being restored back to, say, tall grass prairie, which is a mixture of plants that are amazingly friendly to bees but also have incredible ecological benefits. They sequester carbon. They're very drought tolerant.

For example, Bryan Gilvesy, who is a farmer down in Norfolk County and who won the Canadian Farmer-Rancher Pollinator Award, has been doing this and he raises Texas longhorns. In the heat of the summer, the tall grass prairie thrives and sends down long roots and, therefore, doesn't need the water. He will graze his longhorns on that particular habitat, after growing hay in the cooler season. Those are just a couple of examples there for the farm agencies.

May I address your second question?

Senator Tardif: Please, go ahead.

Ms. Fellows: Lending support for the independent objective research, CANPOLIN was an excellent example of that. The Canadian Pollination Initiative was a $5 million grant from NSERC. This was very much the impetus of another esteemed witness that you brought here, Dr. Peter Kevan, and that was an excellent collaboration among researchers and institutions across the country.

Those are the sorts of things that would be wonderful to have happen, more centres of excellence. They could be independent, such as the Perimeter Institute or CIGI that operate in Waterloo. They could be associated with universities, or they could be at universities. Wilfrid Laurier University has a new Centre for Sustainable Food Systems.

These are the sorts of things we'd like to see. We'd like to see that research is independent and objective.

[Translation]

Senator Maltais: My comments are for Ms. Fellows. I am not sure what your profession is, but you would make an excellent schoolteacher, with these pictures of yours. Congratulations! I do not think that any Canadian children know bees as well, now that you have explained them to us. Well done!

I am not going to talk to you about scientific studies, because a number of scientists have come here and they have all told us the same thing, although in different ways. They have told us that pesticides in the soil get into the water and that you need a long time, almost forever, before they are absorbed into nature. That is what they tell us and I am not arguing with them because I am not a scientist.

Ms. Fellows, your explanation of solitary bees was excellent. It is mostly that kind of bee that I have in my neck of the woods in northern Quebec. Pesticide manufacturers have also come to see us. The last of them — whom I will not name because we are not allowed to advertise — tried to convince us that these new pesticides contain marvellous bacteria that get into the bees and do them as much good as cod-liver oil does for our children. Is that true? I asked them about it. They replied that there is proof that, with the pesticides, bees were healthier than our children are with cod-liver oil.

I would like to know if you agree, or if you feel the same as I do, that pesticides are not great for bees.

[English]

Ms. Barlee: I agree with your sentiment that pesticides aren't good for bees, and science has proven that.

Something that's interesting, and maybe not surprising to the senators around this table, is that studies that are funded by insecticide and pesticide companies are invariably more favourable to the insecticide and pesticide. I think it's important to look at who is funding the studies and to look carefully at peer-reviewed, independent studies.

[Translation]

Senator Maltais: The scientists also told us — and again, I am not going to argue — that a field that has not been treated with pesticides is as productive as a field that has been. Do you agree with the scientists' theory?

[English]

Ms. Fellows: I need to make sure I've understood. He said that a field that had never had neonicotinoids would not produce the same as one that did?

Ms. Barlee: Would. They would produce the same.

Ms. Fellows: I don't understand how that is possible when you are killing a lot of micro-organisms that contribute to the whole balance of this ecosystem. This doesn't make sense.

My answer would be this: That means we need the objective, independent research, and let's come along and do the same study then.

[Translation]

Senator Maltais: I would like an answer about nitrogen. Do pesticides destroy nitrogen?

[English]

Mr. Bennett: That is a different question than I was going to answer. What I was going to say was that we have no economic interest in this; none of us do. Those who have told you that these pesticides are necessary and that they have a tremendous value all have an economic stake in this discussion, and we don't have that.

I think, yes, it is very possible that we can produce the same amount of food on a field if we manage it ecologically rather than if we just make it a chemical farm the way we try to do most of them now.

[Translation]

Senator Maltais: I only have five minutes.

[English]

Senator Ogilvie: Thank you. You've all presented very balanced and interesting presentations.

The underlying issue is relatively simple, that neonics are toxic to insects; bees are insects. Neonics are toxic to bees, and they have a very low LD50 value. Those are established.

The question then, since insecticides are almost certain to be used in agriculture for a fairly long time to come, the question really is, then: How can things be appropriately managed in the overall system?

There are two questions I want to put to you specifically. In a previous session I asked the question about accumulation in the soil over a 10-year period, and I was told that the neonic levels reached a certain level in the first and second years and didn't increase beyond that.

My question to you is this: Do you have any evidence to show that sustained use of the same farming practice over a multi-year period leads to any increase over time in the residue of neonics in the soil?

Ms. Fellows: Absolutely. Let's go back to the slide. This is Dave Goulson's — he sent me this slide.

Senator Ogilvie: I understand the slide. My question is simple: Do you have any reference that shows there is a measured accumulation over time, that is, that it doesn't just reach a certain plateau and stay there, but increases each year with sustained agricultural practice?

Ms. Fellows: I don't know of any study at the moment.

Ms. Barlee: I've read some preliminary studies, and it would depend on the half-life of the neonicotinoid you're talking about. There are some neonicotinoids that persist for well over a thousand days, and then you would continue to see an increase in the soil. Other neonicotinoids don't have as long a half-life.

Senator Ogilvie: Okay. You aren't able to answer the question, because the issue — I understand accumulation. I understand all of those factors. I understand they have different rates. We were told explicitly that it reached a certain level and didn't go beyond that, didn't accumulate over time. My question is: Is there any direct evidence to the contrary?

My second question is the following. You've all suggested a moratorium, but given the reality of the world and the tremendous variability we are hearing in terms of the agricultural practice, the particular seeds planted, whether it's corn versus soybean, the farming practice in terms of the introduction of the seed and the management of the crop, my question to you is: Are you asking for a Canada-wide moratorium under all circumstances, or are you suggesting a selective moratorium based on locale, type of plantation and so on?

Ms. Fellows: I would argue for a Canada-wide moratorium. The reason is this. I quickly want to introduce you to one of the Bee Friendly Farmers. His name is Paul. He lives in California. He farms nine acres. He has incredible soil organic matter numbers. Down there, he has some numbers, soil management practices. The Rodale Institute did the same tests over 23 years and were only able to increase their soil organic matter a certain amount with organic tillage. But at this farm, they've increased it a vast amount more. I have the numbers here. I don't want to muddle it up.

In just four years, through no till practices for mixed vegetation production, no tractors, no horses, no rototillers, nothing, just hand labour and a knowledge-intensive system — that's what we call integrated pest management, a knowledge-intensive system.

The other thing is that his system produces $65,000 per acre per year in gross sales. The state average for similar direct market mixed vegetation farms is only $9,000 and the UC Davis Experimental Farms top out at $17,000 per acre per year.

In addition to this, he does all kinds of pollinator-friendly practices — hedgerows, clean water, things like this. He's not alone. There are many farmers who are doing this on a really sustainable level, sustainable scale. Jean-Martin Fortier lives in Quebec, and he farms one and a half acres.

The Chair: If you can provide us with additional information through the clerk, we would appreciate that.

Mr. Bennett, would you like to answer the question from Senator Ogilvie, and Ms. Barlee?

Mr. Bennett: We would like to see the onus flipped around. Right now, you have to make an exception to not use the pesticide. If there's going to be an exception in the system, it should be to use it. There should be a justification.

Also, we should not be giving conditional licences based on the need for future studies. You can see it right back from 2004, the information wasn't there and, if the information had been provided, would those licences have been issued?

Why on earth are these chemicals on the market in the first place? We want an out-and-out ban across the country. If a farmer can demonstrate a critical need for it, then it would be up to the pest management agency to make a determination, but the determination should be to use it, not to not use it.

Ms. Barlee: The Wilderness Committee does support a Canada-wide ban on neonicotinoid pesticides, because of tens of millions of bees dying, whether it was below flowering linden trees in Oregon or tens of millions of bees dying after corn-treated neonicotinoid seeds were planted in Ontario.

We would particularly concentrate on the three neonicotinoids that have already been heavily restricted in Europe, and that's imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin. Those are the three pesticides we would concentrate on.

Senator Robichaud: In your presentation, you mentioned that besides bees there are a lot of other insects that do pollination. Have similar effects been found on those other pollinators as you are saying with the bees?

Ms. Barlee: They haven't been as heavily studied as bees, but you have had some very interesting studies come out within the last three years looking at the impact on neonicotinoids on bumblebees. They found an 85 per cent reduction in the queens being produced when they were in contact with neonicotinoid pesticides.

Again, there have been other studies done that show it even goes to songbirds. If a songbird eats a seed that has been coated in a neonicotinoid, a seed can kill the songbird. There is some conjecture — it hasn't been proven yet — that the massive decline in songbirds that are insectivores could be linked to neonicotinoid pesticides. Further research needs to be done, but there's a lot of research already again showing honeybees, which are more intensively studied because they have human guardians, being seriously impacted, but also bumblebees, which saw a massive reduction in queens being produced.

Senator Robichaud: You mentioned a few examples of the bees that died massively when they were spreading some insecticides on flowering trees.

Ms. Barlee: Yes.

Senator Robichaud: Toxicity has to do with the dosage. If they overspray, they will kill everything around. That's why I'm questioning here the example you are giving. You can find that in many places where people don't read the labels. They have a pest problem. I sometimes use a bottle that will kill hornets or whatever. When it comes toward me, I don't measure the amount that I spray towards it.

This has an impact. What we've been told here is that when proper dosages and best practices are being used by the people in the field, they considerably reduce the toxicity to other insects or animals that visit those fields.

Ms. Barlee: It is important to read labels on everything. Neonicotinoids are a unique pesticide. I'm going to quote Professor Greg Hunt, an entomologist and honeybee specialist at Purdue University of Indiana. He said, "Although there may be a pesticide more toxic to honeybees, I'm not aware of one."

Again, clothianidin, which is a neonicotinoid that's particularly toxic to honeybees — and this is again from Purdue University — is one of the most toxic substances we know of for honeybees. The lethal oral dose to give a 50 per cent chance of death amongst an exposed group of adult honeybees is about three nanograms per bee. That's three billionth of a gram. Again, neonicotinoids by volume are 10,000 times more toxic than DDT. That's in a paper in the Journal of Applied Ecology, 2013, and the title of it is "An Overview of the Environmental Risks Posed by Neonicotinoid Insecticides." They're a unique class of pesticides in that they are highly toxic, not only to nuisance insects but to beneficial insects.

Senator Robichaud: We understand that part of it.

Mr. Bennett: Let me try. The farming practices suggested by the PMRA and the EPA may help in reducing the initial kill in the spring. If that was the only time bees encountered the neonicotinoids and suffered losses, that might be one of the solutions, but it does not explain that last year in Ontario there was a second die-off of bees at the end of July, when the corn came into flower. It doesn't explain the overwintering problem with the weakening of the hives over winter. It only deals with that initial "let's not spray too much."

The other point is that, unlike the can of hornet spray, the farmer doesn't get a jar of neonicotinoids. He gets a couple of tonnes of seeds that are already coated. Whatever is on the label is irrelevant. The advice to him to plant when it's not windy, when it's not dusty —

Senator Robichaud: Like we're being told now.

Mr. Bennett: That's the way it is. It comes on the seeds. The farmers are not applying it.

Senator Robichaud: It comes on the seeds, so they are obliged to read the labels.

Mr. Bennett: They're obliged to read the labels, but it's already on the seed. The planting equipment was built whenever it was built. They can't modify or change that equipment.

Senator Robichaud: But they are.

Mr. Bennett: They're recommending the production of new equipment. But also I sat through a presentation last summer from John Deere, and they said that the modification concept of going back and dealing with the tens of thousands of corn planters is not going to work. The systems are very precise. They have to plant 35,000 seeds per acre. They have to be exactly the right distance apart. If you put a filter on the exhaust, then you interfere with the pressure system that actually works it. So those changes aren't going to happen.

Maybe a generation is how long it would take to replace all the planting equipment, and do we have a generation to wait?

Ms. Barlee: That was a very interesting question. One of the problems is when neonicotinoids are applied to plants or seed treatment, the vast majority of the neonicotinoid pesticide, which is a poison, doesn't end up on the plant; it ends up on the ground and then it leaches into our water systems and contaminates other plants and species.

[Translation]

Senator Rivard: According to Statistics Canada, the number of colonies of domestic bees is constantly increasing, to the point that it is at its highest level in the last 25 years. However, Health Canada conducted a study on bees in three provinces: Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba. Their conclusion is quite the opposite. Health Canada claims that there is a clear decrease. Who is telling the truth?

[English]

Mr. Bennett: I think what you're seeing is the faith of beekeepers to continue investing. Each year they buy more bees from areas that aren't treated with these pesticides, in an attempt to keep in business. For a while, we will probably see that continuing investment. But as their ability to gain income from selling honey declines, that ability to invest will decline and so the number of colonies will drop. I believe the statistics in 2013 in Ontario will show that the production of honey has actually dropped.

Each beekeeper goes out and buys bees every year to replace those that are lost in the winter the year before. If you've lost money this year, you'll probably buy extra hives next year to try to gain back what you've lost. That's why you're seeing so many hives coming into production.

[Translation]

Senator Rivard: Thank you for the clarifications.

[English]

Senator Oh: Welcome to the Senate standing committee. My question is simple. From your newspaper, Ms. Barlee, you claim that in Elmwood, Ontario, 37 million honeybees were killed in 2012. That's a lot of bees. How were these numbers kept track of?

Ms. Barlee: It was widely reported. Of course, after fields were planted with corn seeds that were treated with neonicotinoids, there was a massive honeybee die-off. Indeed, you hear that the Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Canada, with Health Canada, has said that current agricultural practices related to the use of neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed are not sustainable.

Then, they go on to list the massive amount of affected hives. In Ontario, in 2012, it went from 4,500 to 5,890 affected hives. In Quebec, it was less; it was 788. Then, in 2013, they said the hives that were affected were from 3,789 to 6,639. It's a massive amount of bee yards. It's not unusual, millions of bees dying from neonicotinoid poisoning. That's becoming normal and that's what's scaring us so badly.

Senator Oh: How many bees in a colony? Do you have any idea?

Ms. Barlee: No, I don't know.

Ms. Fellows: There are 20,000 to 30,000 in the off-season, and in peak season it can reach 50,000 to 60,000 honeybees in a hive. Dave Schuit, in Elmwood, lost 600 hives. Therefore, that's how they got that number of 37 million. That happened in June, and that was after the corn planting. There was a "Canada AM" TV clip, a morning show, and he described how they died with their legs and wings paralyzed. Their tongues were sticking out, venom was dripping from their abdomens, and he was watching them and he was in tears. These are his livestock, his employees.

The other thing he has related is how difficult it is to keep his queen bees alive for a mere three months, when they used to live for five years. He sees the bigger picture here. He says the bee deaths are heralding a warning, much like canaries in a coal mine, and I would agree.

Senator Mercer: I'm not unsympathetic to the case you're putting forward, but I also understand that we're one of the few countries in the world that can increase our production of food. By 2050, there will be 9 billion people on this planet. We couldn't feed them under current circumstances, so we've got to find a way to do this. If we have to continue to produce more bees, and more bees need to be sacrificed — there's a balance needed.

The poor beekeeper is watching his bees die. It is not fun, I'm sure, for him and it is costing him money, but somehow we've got to be able to manage agriculture, or somebody needs to be able to manage agriculture to produce more food, in a timely fashion, to feed the billions of extra people we're going to have on this planet. Some of this will have to involve chemicals of some sort to help manage pesticides.

Mr. Bennett, you said that we've been able to feed ourselves without neonicotinoids for a long time. Yes, but we've employed other chemicals to help us do that and other types of management of agriculture. How do you propose that we take care of these 9 billion people?

Mr. Bennett: Well, as Ms. Fellows pointed out, there are ways to produce massive amounts of food organically and successfully, but we certainly need to be producing more food. When we refer to the corn crop, the corn crop is not necessarily only producing food; it's producing fuel and other things that we probably could be better off without.

It's a complex issue, but the neonicotinoids are not the one single solution, especially if in the long run they actually impair our ability to produce food. If we lose the pollinating capabilities of insects in addition to the honeybees, then we will lose the capability to produce food. It may give us a bump in the production, although the numbers don't really bear that out.

As for the suggestion that neonicotinoids are essential to produce food, there just isn't research to prove that. There is research to suggest that we can produce just as much food without them, but it's the long-term impact of these pesticides that we need to be concerned with because 40 per cent of the food on your plate is dependent upon pollination by an insect. If we're killing off the pollinators, it's the pollinators that aren't honeybees that are really most important to think about here. We don't exactly know the devastation that's happened to them because we don't husband them. There is nobody out of pocket because we're killing them and so we don't have a lot of information on them yet, but we do know that it kills them. In the long term, we'd be better off being much smarter in how we use chemicals than we are today.

Ms. Barlee: I would say one of very worst things we can do for food production is to kill bees. Bees are responsible for roughly one third to 40 per cent of every bite we eat and, again, neonicotinoids are über-toxic to bees. They are profoundly, wildly more toxic than other types of pesticides and we've seen that in the honeybee die-offs with over 25 million bees at one farm. We've seen that with the bumblebee die-offs.

We can be smarter; we can be better; we can continue to produce food and start producing food in a sustainable manner, but, again, the very worst thing we can do for food production is kill bees.

Ms. Fellows: We've got away from the natural balance that's in the earth. Neonicotinoids don't need to be in our soil and chemicals don't need to be there either. The principles of agro-ecology absolutely do support the notion that we can feed people in 2050 and the examples I've used are from Paul Kaiser, Jean-Martin Fortier, there's even Daniel Brisebois also in Quebec. The idea is that you're working smarter and not harder; you're working with nature. All the answers are already there in nature. Joel Salatin is included in these people. It's not just talk. They're actually doing it. The other people are just talking and saying that this will be and it's not necessarily the case.

Senator Tardif: I believe I already know your answer to this question, but I will ask it just to hear it once again.

Do you believe that Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency is functioning well in regard to bee health and colony mortality?

Mr. Bennett: Absolutely not. They have given conditional licences and then extended those licences after the companies didn't meet the conditions of those licences. They've asked them for more information; they've not received it, yet they continue to rubber-stamp the licences. Their job should not be one of facilitating the profits of the pesticide industry; it should be protecting us and protecting our environment. That should be their first and only mandate, and they're doing the opposite right now.

Ms. Barlee: I think Health Canada has done a very poor job in terms of regulating neonicotinoids, particularly after catastrophic losses of tens of millions of bees that were directly linked to neonicotinoid poisoning.

We have a crisis situation with our bees, again, with certain hives being wiped out completely, with overwintering losses of around 35 per cent of bees over the last three years in Canada. That's reaching crisis proportions and I'm looking to Health Canada to do the right thing and act on the science which shows that neonicotinoids are killing bees by the tens of millions.

Senator Robichaud: I might not look like I am, but I'm on your side. I would like you to give me convincing science-based facts.

I had a group of people representing agriculture from all over Canada in my office this morning. They always give you the line that whatever we recommend or whatever is being done in agriculture should be on a science-based application. If you ask them, "Should we ban neonics?" they will say "Oh, no, we will not survive."

Have you tried working with the agricultural community to ban those neonics?

Ms. Barlee: I can address the first portion of the question in regard to science. Here you have the paper from the European Union that led to the banning of neonicotinoids, or very strict restrictions on neonicotinoids, in Europe starting last December. You will see in this paper that there are multiple scientific studies that the European Union references for implementing that very harsh restriction.

There are more studies right here: "ImmuneSuppression by Neonicotinoid Insecticides at the Root of Global Wildlife Declines." That came out of the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. Here is an excellent report called "Pesticides and Honey Bees: State of the Science" that goes through multiple scientific, peer-reviewed papers that show the incredible toxicity of neonicotinoids to bees and other wild pollinators.

The science is there. We just need to act on it.

Ms. Fellows: You asked if we were working with farmers. Yes, the National Farmers Union. I have submitted their resolutions that were drafted in response to the PMRA's comments in December. This document was voted on at their annual national convention last November and approved by farmer members in attendance. I am submitting their highly detailed resolutions. Mr. Pittman already has them. They are being translated, which is why they weren't distributed.

I also mentioned ALUS, the Alternative Land Use Services, which is a farmer-to-farmer agency. What ends up happening is that those people who are participating in that program where farmers are rewarded for providing pollinator habitat, they become spokespeople and they go to other farmers and this is really valuable.

Senator Robichaud: I'm not convinced that we have made the case to the agricultural community.

Mr. Bennett: Well, I hate to be negative to that, but they haven't made the case to us that these things are safe. Here's the list of studies for different versions of neonicotinoids that the PMRA has asked for and not yet received, yet they allow the stuff to be on the market. I don't think it's up to us to prove that they're bad; it's up to them to prove that they're safe and they haven't done it yet.

Senator Robichaud: Mr. Chairman, it's a good debate here. You can participate.

The Chair: Senator Robichaud, if you permit me, looking at the time, Mr. Bennett, Ms. Barlee and Ms. Fellows, if you have additional information and documents that you want to send to the committee, please do so. Ms. Barlee, you intervened earlier when you said that it was ten times more toxic than DTT.

Ms. Barlee: No, 10,000.

The Chair: Could you provide us with that information? The reason I say this is that scientists on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations don't have the same figure that you have.

Ms. Barlee: I have the paper right now.

The Chair: Please provide this and, believe you me, you have generated a lot of interest, and the other witnesses, too. It's our committee that will make recommendations to stakeholders and governments. You can rest assured that will happen.

Senator Robichaud: To go back to what you were saying there, you say you have nothing to gain by whatever you're doing, but the stakeholders have a lot to lose if they can't produce. It does not matter that we say tell them they will get the same production; it's what they believe because their livelihood depends on it. This is why I say we have to make a pretty strong case to get them looking in that direction.

Ms. Barlee: I'd love to speak to that.

The pesticide companies have been very successful in trying to pit farmers against beekeepers, and that's sad because this is really about pesticide companies putting big profits and big money over the health of bees in Canada and across the world.

Mr. Bennett: I just want to say one last time that they have not yet proved that they are safe. They've been asked for information and they have not delivered, and yet they're on the market and we're the ones calling for action.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Bennett.

Ms. Fellows: I fully support what Mr. Bennett and Ms. Barlee are saying.

The Chair: Thank you for accepting our invitation to be here. We've had witnesses before and we have the power to ask them to come back. There is no doubt that, with the sharing of information this evening, it will permit the committee to look at the real range of the mandate, the order of reference that we have from the Senate, in order to make sure that we make recommendations that all stakeholders will have a role to play. Thank you.

Honourable senators, I now declare the meeting adjourned.

(The committee adjourned.)