Class action lawsuit targets pesticide makers

Sep 03, 2014

Individual Ontario honey producers going after Bayer and Syngenta, the manufactures of neonicotinoid pesticides

By Amanda Brodhagen,

A $450-million class-action lawsuit was filed Wednesday against Bayer and Syngenta, the makers of neonicotinoid (neonic for short) pesticides, on behalf of two Ontario beekeepers, Sun Parlor Honey Ltd. and Munro Honey.

Siskinds LLP filed the suit with the aim to “recover damages suffered by beekeepers due to the widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides” losses and damages dating back as far as 2006. The breakdown includes $450 million in damages to Ontario’s bee industry, with $400 million in general and specific damages, and $50 million in punitive damages.

The lawsuit claims that the companies in question “were negligent in their manufacture, sale and distribution of neonicotinoids in Ontario that caused beekeepers to suffer significant losses and damage.” Neonics are applied as seed treatments to the majority of corn, canola and soybean seed in Canada and the United States.

In a release issued by the Ontario Beekeepers Association (OBA) who say they are not directly involved in the lawsuit, but are pleased with the move, the losses which they suggest are linked to the use of neonics include:

  • Killed or weakened bees
  • Non-productive queens and bee colonies; breeding stock
  • Contaminated wax, combs and hives
  • Reduced honey production and lost profits
  •  Costs incurred to meet honey and pollination contracts; and increased labour, equipment and supply expenses

“While the OBA is not directly involved in this action, we support any effort that could help beekeepers recover losses caused by the overuse of neonicotinoids,” Tibor Szabo Vice President of OBA said in a release.

The Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists reported this summer that Ontario beekeepers lost 58 percent of their hives over the winter, which is three times higher than the rest of provinces in Canada. This spring, the provincial government offered one-time monetary assistance to beekeepers who had experienced more than 40 percent loss of their colonies between Jan. 1, 2014 to Oct. 31, 2014.

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