Actual birds and bees. Sorry to have possibly misled you….

There continues to be a lot of research that shows many of the smaller creatures in our world are not fairing so well. Pollinators like bees and other insects have been getting a lot of attention for a while, with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) at the forefront. But what causes CCD? Many speculate pesticides like neonicotinoids are a significant factor.

Pesticide use continues to climb as we attempt to increase yields from land that is continually worked in conditions that are less than favourable due to climate change (extreme drought, floods, heat or cold). According to Health Canada, sales of neonicotinoids increased from just over 100,000 kg in 2008 to nearly 300,000 in 2010. Despite the fact that these pesticides are applied in small amounts because they are extremely toxic.

This brings us back to 1962 when Rachel Carson released Silent Spring, warning us that DDT was being absorbed by birds and insects, and ultimately humans’ war on nature was a war on themselves. And we haven’t changed much since then. Although we don’t use DDT anymore (Africa still does) we have many other chemicals that are being found in birds’ system because it’s in what they eat (worms, insects, small mammals or other birds). Fire retardants, neonicotinoids, PFCs are just some of the chemicals birds and bees are exposed to, and they are suffering.

Birds are considered a good indicator species, because some species can live relatively long lives, so the effect a chemical (or multiple chemicals) has on a bird can be measured and monitored. Bees are very important pollinators (along with butterflies, beetles, and flies), and without pollinators a large portion of our supermarkets would be empty.

In Manitoba, we are lucky to have a cosmetic pesticide ban come into effect Jan. 1, 2015. Although all living creatures in Manitoba will have less chemical exposure, we do not live in a bubble. Birds and some insects migrate, facing exposure to chemicals thousands of miles away.

What can you do? Buy organic and local whenever possible. Stop using chemicals to clean and kill. Pesticides used on your lawn are absorbed and consumed by worms and other insects, which in turn are consumed by birds. Toxic cleaners wash down your drain into our waterways where fish consume and absorb them, which are again eaten by birds (or us!). All these chemicals build up in an animal, and are absorbed by the next animal in the food chain that eats it.

Speak up for strong lawn pesticide legislation. The Provincial Government is accepting comments regarding how the cosmetic pesticide ban will be implemented until September 30, 2014. You can email To see what the government is proposing click here.

Join David Suzuki’s Blue Dot Tour. The purpose of this tour is to get our right to clean drinking water, healthy food, fresh air legally recognized by all levels of government. Currently, over 110 nations recognize the right to live in a healthy environment, but Canada does not. Join us for An Evening With David Suzuki October 24, and watch for the many other events happening that week (Waste Reduction Week).