No, no to neonics…

by Diana Magnuson

“If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” …attributed to Albert Einstein.

Hyperbole? Perhaps not. CCD, colony collapse disaster, has wiped out millions of beehives and untold numbers of pollinators around the world. The culprit? Neonics.

What are neonics?
The new “N” word in the world of bees, butterflies and other pollinator insects represents disaster. Neonics, otherwise known as neonicotinoids, kill not only pests; they also adversely impact the food we eat.
Neonics are made up of seven chemicals, all known to be toxic to the entire food chain.
According to a Fish and Wildlife report: “Neonics are toxic to our ecosystem by creating a nonreversible binding action in the nervous system of the invertebrate or vertebrate.”
1411_iod_butterfly_manIn other words, the poison is distributed throughout the plant’s entire vascular system. It is estimated more than ten million beehives have been decimated in less than a decade in the U.S. alone.
It has taken the decimation of hordes of bees to sound the warning bell that neonics are a key factor in the decline. These bee killoffs have drawn worldwide attention, but not enough action.

Throughout Europe, the pesticide has been placed under a ban.

Canada also is beginning to urge action. The United States is following suit, but very slowly. More action is needed.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is phasing out the use of these neonics.

According to spokeswoman Miel Corbett: “We made the decision because we are concerned over the global decline of all pollinators—bees and butterflies.”

Cities and States:
Eugene (Oregon), Spokane and Seattle (Washington), Shorewood (Minnesota) and Skagway (Alaska) are leading the way with municipal-use bans of neonics.
Spokane’s city council president Ben Stuckart, who pushed for the ban, said: “There is enough evidence that it is harmful to bees. We should be a good global citizen and set an example.”
Seattle’s council noted the city’s ban “is a modest step to help protect bees and other pollinators… the city’s move helps raise awareness about what we can all be doing to promote health of pollinators through sustainable pest management.”
Other municipalities considering neonic bans are in California, Maine and Arizona. (Tucson [Arizona] didn’t pass.)
Interim measures to protect bee-friendly environments have been introduced in Minnesota, California, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Alaska and Vermont.
And neonics are to be banned in wildlife refuge systems in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands by 2016.

—Written by our guest and good friend, Irene Clausen of Chicago

We can organize and petition for a municipal-use ban of neonics in Marquette. Why wait?
Marquette can be known as a “Pollinator City.” Wouldn’t that be wonderful? I will research. More later.

—Diana Magnuson

Author’s Note: Thank you Craig Starkweather, former owner of Mackinac Island’s Butterfly House, for posing for me last month. My intention in all of my allegorical art is to show the “belongingness” of man to Nature. The Butterfly House is the first one in Michigan. It is the third oldest live butterfly exhibit in the U.S. It has 1,800 square feet of tropical garden, with fifty to one hundred varieties of live butterflies from four continents. More than 800 usually are flying in the garden. Their lifespan is short, averaging two weeks.

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