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Jan 29, 2014

Tell Wilmar: Only action, not words, will save forests

by Friends of the Earth US — last modified Jan 29, 2014 11:28 AM

Last month, Wilmar International, the world’s largest palm oil trader, made a historic commitment to cut out deforestation, peatland destruction and the exploitation of human rights from its supply chain. This development has huge potential to transform the palm oil industry and the lives of people impacted by landgrabs and forest destruction. But so far, it’s just words on paper. Wilmar’s promise only matters if the company takes rapid and responsible action.

Tell Wilmar to keep its promise by addressing its worst abuses, now.

 

Wilmar’s crimes span continents: it has much to amend. In West Kalimantan, Indonesia, one of Wilmar’s suppliers, Bumitama Agri, stands accused of destroying thousands of acres of forest and maintaining illegal plantations inside protected forest reserves. Friends of the Earth has called on Wilmar to stop purchasing palm oil from Bumitama and to sell its shares in the company, but Wilmar has yet to do so.


For Wilmar’s promise to be worth more than the paper it’s written on, Wilmar needs to take immediate corrective action toward Bumitama.


In the Kalangala Islands of Uganda, Wilmar subsidiaries have taken thousands of acres from local communities and have destroyed natural forest to grow palm oil. Communities that depend on the region’s natural forests and lakes for subsistence are being driven off their land with little warning or compensation.


If Wilmar is true to its commitment to No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation, it needs to resolve the legal and customary land claims in Uganda, and to halt its forest destruction.

 

In Nigeria, Wilmar has acquired land that overlaps national forest reserves and community-owned lands, and has already deforested and bulldozed thousands of acres of forest and farmland. Our partners in Nigeria have launched a lawsuit to stop the destruction, but have yet to see any remedy. If Wilmar is to fulfill its commitment, it needs to halt its operations in Nigeria until and unless all legal and ecological concerns are addressed and until it gets full community consent.

 

Tell Wilmar: Your promise of No Deforestation, No Exploitation, No Peat requires urgent action. And it should start now.

Jan 28, 2014

Friends of the Earth Ukraine member Vadim Shebanov arrested

by Denis Burke — last modified Jan 28, 2014 10:55 AM

Vadim Shebanov, a member of Friends of the Earth Ukraine, was arrested following a peaceful protest in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine on January 26. On January 31, he was released from prison, but put under house arrest. Please help us put pressure on the Ukrainian authorities to release Vadim immediately .

Peaceful protestors in Ukraine have suffered violence, harassment and abuse at the hands of their own police force in recent months. Vadim Shebanov, a member of Friends of the Earth Ukraine/ Zelenyi Svit, was arrested following a peaceful protest in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine on January 26. Please help us put pressure on the Ukrainian authorities to drop all charges against Vadim immediately.

 

 

Roughly five thousand people demonstrated at the city’s park on Sunday January 26, before moving to Dnipropetrovsk Regional Administration. The demonstrators were calling for the repeal of recent anti-democratic legislative amendments. [UPDATE January 28: These laws have since been repealed]

Three people, including Vadim Shebanov, were nominated to negotiate on behalf of the protestors. They discussed their demands with Vice-Chair of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Administration, Mr. Krupsky. Among their demands was a request to improve the security situation, which had been getting out of hand. Unfortunately, police arrested peaceful activists including Vadim Shebanov instead. He was detained by police and sentenced to two months pre-trial detention in the same night.

Vadim Shebanov is a well-known Dnipropetrovsk activist, member of Friends of the Earth Ukraine/ Zelenyi Svit, chair of a sports associations, public activist and former deputy of Dnipropetrovsk regional council.

 

You can also help by promoting this petition on:

 

Facebook

Vadim Shebanov, a member of Friends of the Earth Ukraine, was arrested following a peaceful protest in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine on January 26. Please help us put pressure on the Ukrainian authorities to release Vadim immediately bit.ly/1f2zhKm.

 

Twitter

Help us put pressure on Ukrainian government to release FoE #Ukraine activist Vadim Shebanov. Petition: http://bitly.com/1f2zhKn @foeint

 

Image: Mstyslav Chernov/Unframe

Jan 27, 2014

Ukrainian government's criminalization of civil society and international cooperation critically damages the country's ability to protect the environment

by Denis Burke — last modified Jan 27, 2014 12:25 PM

January 27, 2014 – Friends of the Earth International, the world's largest federation of grassroots environmental groups, is demanding the immediate release of Friends of the Earth Ukraine member Vadim Shebanov and other activists arrested and detained by the police during a peaceful protest in the city of Dnipropetrovsk on January 26. Mr Shebanov, who is a well-known activist and former deputy of the Dnipropetrovsk city council, was engaged in an effort to try and open negotiations between local authorities and protesters gathered in the city centre.

We condemn the recent abhorrent violence in Ukraine and call on all parties to pressure Ukraine to end the violence, allow investigations into allegations of police abuse, and repeal its new anti-democratic laws. [UPDATE January 28: These laws have since been repealed]

 

We strongly urge the Ukrainian government to fully reverse recent anti-democratic national legislation adopted on January 16 that effectively criminalizes political, civil and social activities. Of particular concern are bans on public assembly, criminalization of international collaboration and the labeling of NGOs as 'foreign agents', restrictions on information sharing and repressive regulations governing NGO activities in general. Far from posing a threat to society, these activities help to develop community life, build peace and protect the free and frank exchange of ideas.

We are alarmed by the potential impact of the new legislation on the entirely peaceful activities of Friends of the Earth (FoE) Ukraine / Зелений світ. FoE Ukraine is a vibrant and extremely active member of both the international federation Friends of the Earth International and the regional network Friends of the Earth Europe. FoE Ukraine's transnational cooperation is a vital part of its work to raise environmental awareness in Ukraine and contribute to regional and international solutions to shared environmental problems. Placing legal obstacles in the way of NGOs, such as FoE Ukraine, in the name of security is a dishonest affront to the very idea of international solidarity – a cornerstone of the architecture of a peaceful global community.

Environmental issues do not, by their nature, respect national borders. This work necessarily involves international cooperation. The recent legislative moves by the Ukrainian government can only damage international cooperation through myopic, reactionary national measures. Further, this raft of legislation will suffocate online and offline media and academic discourse, encourage xenophobia, and subject civil society activity in all its forms to the scrutiny of public officials: history is littered with illustrative examples of how such government interference in public life cripples innovative, creative and progressive work across education, business, civil and cultural life.

We demand that the international community works swiftly to pressure Ukraine to end the violence, allow investigations into documented abuses by the police to date and repeal anti-democratic legislation, using all available diplomatic channels.

 

Image: Mstyslav Chernov/Unframe

Jan 15, 2014

2014 Message from JA! / Friends of the Earth Mozambique

by Anabela Lemos — last modified Jan 15, 2014 02:52 PM

As 2013 ended, we were forced to consider that the year saw the situation in Mozambique deteriorating quite a bit. Already in 2012, there was a marked decrease in the civil society space and a lack of openness for serious and transparent dialogue with the government. We entered 2013 with hope, convinced that things certainly could not get worse. Today, we don’t know how to evaluate the year that just ended, nor what to expect from what’s coming up.

Across the country, human rights crimes and violations only increased, along with land grabbing, conflicts between communities and investors, and the destruction of our natural resources by corporations in the name of ‘development’. The denouncement by civil society increased, but somehow we kept being ignored by our legal system, which should be sorting out the many injustices resulting from the investment boom, but instead is busy with other issues.

It would have been a huge stretch of the imagination to predict that 2013 could be worse than 2012. Who could have imagined that the military and political tension would bring us back to arms. This came along with the wave of kidnappings and total sense of public insecurity for the people.

 

 

But despite the hostile climate, civil society in Mozambique continued its work. With all the threats, constraints and usual total disregard for our work, JA and other allied NGOs remained united in the fight against the large land-grabbing of ProSavana and support to subsistence farmers, support to communities displaced by coal mining in Tete province, in fighting the implementation of REDD projects in Africa, combating land-grabbing by Wambao agriculture and all over the country, in short, the usual fights.

Although for the worst reasons, 2013 saw an emotional, exciting and prominent event in Mozambique. On 31 October, more than 30,000 Mozambican citizens took to the streets to participate in a vibrant peace march.

We protested peacefully with chants of ‘No to war!’ ‘No to corruption!’ ‘No to kidnaping abductions and insecurity!’ And, the big one, ‘Down with the government!’ was shouted in unison through the streets of Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, but also in other cities such as Beira, Pemba, Quelimane, Nampula and certainly to a lesser extent in many other parts of the country. It was a perfect demonstration of how the Mozambican people are tired of false promises and hollow speeches. The people took to the streets to say ‘BASTA!’ (Enough)

But the year was not over yet…

In November we had local-level elections and all the problems that arise repeatedly in our country (with an absurd normalcy) of what should be a simple democratic exercise including deaths, fraud, assault and more. It was sad and shameful indeed. Attacks on civil society continued.

To close the year, the cherry on the cake was that in early December, Mozambican academic Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco was summoned by the Attorney General & criminal proceedings were brought against him and the media outlets, Canal de Moçambique and Mediafax. All this was because he wrote a harsh open letter to the President, Armando Guebuza criticizing his governance and the two media outlets published it.

Mediafax has explained that the two newspapers are accused of abuse of press freedom for publishing Castel-Branco’s letter. Once again the government has used imagination and creativity to shrink the space. Abuse of freedom! Are journalists no longer free to publish opinions of individuals? Worse, do citizens still have the right to give their opinions? Or are we about to lose one of our most fundamental rights?

Critical thinking and opinion are fundamental to the development of a society. If wrong, absurd and/ or radical, the ideas expressed should be challenged in the same way: BY WORDS.

Across the world, every day, governments and rulers are subject to criticism and always will be! Especially when they forget who they represent.

“If the process moves forward and ends in conviction, our freedoms will be threatened,” wrote Dr Alice Mabote of Mozambican Human Rights League in an open solidarity letter to Castel-Branco, challenging the Prosecutor to also add to the prosecution list her and all other Mozambicans who criticize the “mis-governance” of Armando Guebuza.

These proceedings are absurd. JA joins civil society in denouncing them and we extend our full solidarity to Professor Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco, Canal de Moçambique and Mediafax and calls for civil society and the Mozambican media to not be intimidated.

We will continue the struggle for environmental justice, social justice, for a better future for future generations and for a better world where differences are resolved by exchanging ideas and not bullets. Our words are our weapons, and because we are right, sooner or later we will win with them!

“In the pursuit of truth, it is forbidden to put words in handcuffs,” said Carlos Cardoso, Mozambican journalist assassinated in 2000.

A luta continua!

 

Anabela Lemos is the director of Friends of the Earth Mozambique/ JA!

All image credits: Friends of the Earth Mozambique/ JA!

Jan 10, 2014

Friends of the Earth International statement on water apartheid in Palestine

by admin — last modified Jan 10, 2014 10:35 AM

Friends of the Earth International stands in solidarity with its member PENGON/Friends of the Earth Palestine and the Palestinian people in their struggle for their right to live in dignity and exercise sovereignty over their land and natural resources, including access to fresh water.

Many communities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip) suffer from a lack of access to adequate, safe, and clean water, due to Israeli water policies and practices which discriminate against the Palestinian population of the OPT, and the encroachment by Israeli settlers on Palestinian water resources.

The water supply in the OPT is controlled by Israel. While all Israeli settlements in the West Bank are connected to piped water supplied by the Israeli state water company Mekorot, and many have swimming pools, while an estimated 15% of the Palestinian population is not serviced by water supply. For those who are connected and purchase their water from Mekorot, the amount of water available is restricted to a level which does not meet their needs and does not constitute a fair and equitable share of the shared water resources. During summer, water is routinely rationed and supply might be reduced up to 70% in certain places. Some Palestinian cities, towns and villages may have water only once a week or even once a month.*


In view of the discriminatory water policies and practices sustained by the Israeli water company Mekorot, which may be seen to uphold and nurture water apartheid, Friends of the Earth International welcomes the recent decision by the Dutch public utility company Vitens to abstain from signing an international cooperation agreement with Mekorot, and supports the campaign of PENGON/Friends of the Earth Palestine and other organisations united in the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel (BDS) to prevent other parties - be they companies, governments or aid agencies - to pursue such agreements.

Mekorot violates international law and colludes in resource grabbing, including pillage of water resources in the OPT, supply of this pillaged water to illegal Israeli settlements, and engages in systematic discrimination and denial of water to the Palestinian population.

Friends of the Earth International calls upon governments, municipalities and private companies worldwide to discourage business links with illegal Israeli settlements by avoiding or terminating all cooperation with complicit Israeli companies such as Mekorot.

Financial transactions, investments, purchases, procurements as well as other economic activities benefiting Israeli settlements, entail legal and economic risks stemming from the fact that the Israeli settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied land and are not recognised as a legitimate part of Israel's territory. This may result in disputed titles to the land, water, mineral or other natural resources which might be the subject of purchase or investment.

* For more information, see our recent report 'Economic drivers of water financialization', chapter 1, 'Water injustice in Palestine: a limiting factore for social and economic development',
pp 12 - 16 http://www.foei.org/en/resources/publications/pdfs/2013/Economic%20drivers%20of%20water%20financialization.pdf/at_download/file

Jan 09, 2014

Friends of the Earth Europe: New report - International ‘Meat atlas’

by Friends of the Earth Europe — last modified Jan 09, 2014 01:19 PM

How overconsumption and intensive meat production wrecks the planet

Intensive meat and dairy production is having an increasingly devastating impact on society and the environment, according to a new 'Meat Atlas' published today by Friends of the Earth Europe and the Heinrich Boell Foundation.

 

The way we produce and consume meat and dairy needs a radical rethink. Our industrialised production system is untenable, according to the report, since it depends on scarce land and water resources, and passes on hidden costs to the consumer. Curbs on corporate control over food need to be implemented, it says, to reduce the impact on society and the environment.

 

The Meat Atlas aims to catalyse the debate over the need for better, safer and more sustainable food and farming and advocates clear individual and political solutions.

Adrian Bebb, senior food, agriculture and biodiversity campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Diet is no longer a private matter. Every time we eat, we are making a political choice, and we are impacting upon the lives of people around the world, on the environment, biodiversity and the climate. Huge amounts of resources go into the food on our plates. Sustainable alternatives exist to the dominant destructive, corporate-controlled and intensive global system for producing and consuming meat."


The report outlines the impact of intensive meat and dairy production on freshwater usage and land. Worldwide agriculture consumes 70% of available freshwater, one third of which goes towards raising livestock. The increasingly intensive livestock sector is also one of largest consumers of land and edible crops, with more than 40% of the annual output of wheat, rye, oats and maize used for animal feed, and with one third of the world's 14 billion hectares of cultivated land used to grow it.

 

To produce a kilo of beef requires 15,500 litres of water – the same amount required to produce 12 kilos of wheat or 118 kilos of carrots. To make a hamburger requires more than 3.5 square metres of land.

 

Barbara Unmüßig, President Heinrich Boell Foundation: "Intensive meat production isn't just torture for animals. It destroys the environment, and devours great chunks of our raw materials which we import from the global South as animal feed. After China, Europe is the biggest importer of soya. Argentina and Brazil are dramatically increasing their soya cultivation, and it's being fed almost exclusively to the animals we slaughter. Rising meat consumption is forcing up land prices. This has devastating consequences: Nearly a third of the world's land is being used to grow animal feed. Meanwhile, small farmers are losing their land and their livelihoods. That schnitzel on our plates jeopardises the food security of many people in the global South."


The report also warns that the trade talks between the EU and the US risk pushing food and farming standards down on both sides of the Atlantic. Big food and biotech companies want to lift EU restrictions on genetically modified (GM) foods and animal feeds, and are challenging consumer labelling laws. They also want to undermine the EU's 'precautionary principle' which sets food safety standards, and aim to further globalise and industrialise the meat industry.

 

There are solutions, and the organisations urge legislators to reform the livestock sector. The Sustainable Food Communication [4], due to be launched by the European Commission in spring 2014, should address dietary issues, underlining the basic right to a nutritious diet based on seasonal and local food, which is grown sustainably, respects cultural diversity, and includes a smaller daily intake of good quality meat, according to the organisations.

Jan 08, 2014

Blog: What's driving the palm oil industry's human rights abuses and environmental destruction? Just follow the money

by Jeff Conant — last modified Jan 08, 2014 12:30 PM

If you’re looking to do your part to protect tropical rainforests, you need look no further than your kitchen pantry. As you’ve likely heard by now from Friends of the Earth and others, the world’s leading killer of tropical forests is palm oil -- and palm oil derivatives are in your cookies, your ice cream, your shampoo, and -- I’m sorry to tell you this -- in your chocolate.

While industry analysts attribute the ubiquity of palm oil to consumer demand, palm oil isn’t in all these products because you demanded it, because it’s healthy, or because it tastes good (it doesn’t). It’s there because it’s cheap. Palm oil is cheap because it’s produced by a global industry built on land grabbing, human rights abuses and environmental devastation. Along with low production costs and a growing market comes the other reason why palm oil has become ubiquitous: it gives high returns on investment.

Palm oil’s environmental footprint

Palm oil is a vegetable oil derived from the fruit of the oil palm tree, native to West Africa, and used, as of very recently, in thousands of consumer products, from baked goods and ice cream to cleaning products and biofuels. Because of its high melting point, its high yield, and its lack of unhealthy trans fats, palm oil has rapidly come to dominate the global vegetable oil market, with production projected to double again in the next decade. (About 76 percent of palm oil is used for foods, with the remainder used for industrial purposes including biodiesel.)

Nearly 90 percent of global palm oil production comes from Indonesia and Malaysia, where industry boosters argue it’s been a huge boon for the economy. World Wide Fund for Nature, the environmental juggernaut that initiated the industry-friendly Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil to certify palm oil according to environmental and social criteria, argues that palm oil has lifted millions of poor Indonesians out of poverty. But at what price?

Because palm trees do extremely well in the same conditions as rain forest, the industry’s expansion has relied on cutting and burning vast acreages of forest, draining fragile peat soils, and replacing native vegetation with palm oil monocultures. Less than half of Indonesia’s forests remain standing today, and by 2020 the Indonesian government plans to convert 45 million more acres of rain forests -- an area the size of Syria -- into palm oil plantations.

Indonesia’s rainforests are among the earth’s most biologically and culturally rich ecosystems, harboring the only wild populations of orangutans, Sumatran tigers and Sumatran rhinoceros. Our partners at Rainforest Action Network have launched a campaign to bring attention to these critically endangered animals, especially the orangutan, of which only 60,000 wild animals remain. The organization is targeting 20 snack food companies that use conflict palm oil in their products and urging consumers to participate in their In Your Palm campaign.

The African rain forest belt is suffering from the palm oil boom as well, with millions of acres of forest being converted to plantations from Liberia and Cameroon in West Africa across the heart of the continent to Uganda and Madagascar in the east.

It’s not just animals that are endangered: the palm oil monitoring group SawitWatch has identified 663 ongoing land disputes between palm oil companies and rural communities in Indonesia, many involving private armies and paramilitaries. In Nigeria, activists have been forced into hiding for opposing palm oil expansion, and in Liberia, plantation conditions are likened to modern-day slavery. Forced and child labor are part of business-as-usual.

Last month, Friends of the Earth US released a report about a lesser-known company called Bumitama Agri that sells the majority of its palm oil to Wilmar International, a Singapore-based company that controls nearly half of the global palm oil trade. The report shows how Bumitama has destroyed at least 15,000 acres of rainforest in the past decade, including endangered orangutan habitat. At least 17,000 acres of its plantation land lacks valid permits, much of it inside protected forest reserves.

Bumitama deliberately acquired much of this land shortly before its initial public offering in April 2012; in its prospectus to investors, the company made it clear that its money-making strategy was to exploit these assets. Prospective investors were informed that Bumitama’s expansion plans included preferential rights to harvest from lands without the required licenses, and that the Hariyanto family -- the majority owner of Bumitama Agri -- would bear the liability risk.

A year later, in April 2013, several dying orangutans were rescued from one of Bumitama's concessions. After a complaint was made to the RSPO, Bumitama pledged to stop clearing land until ecological assessments had been carried out. But satellite imagery revealed that Bumitama continued to clear forests and peat swamps for several more months in the area where the orangutans were found. When the allegations hit home, shortly after an RSPO meeting this October, the director of Bumitama, Gunardi Hariyanto Lin, resigned.

A very lucrative commodity

While it's both illegal and unethical, Bumitama’s forest destruction is fully justified by economic logic. Everywhere, there are strong and growing incentives to grow more palm oil: the US Food and Drug Administration's 2006 mandate that all food labels list trans fat content led to a spike in US palm oil consumption. The FDA is now considering a total ban on trans fats, which will likely give US palm oil imports a further boost. Likewise, palm oil consumption for biofuels in the EU has increased by 365 percent since 2006; Indonesia too is increasing its reliance on palm oil as a biofuel feedstock, with other countries sure to follow.

But a clear-eyed assessment of how the industry has achieved its rapid growth shows that consumer choice and government mandates are not the only drivers. It is true that palm oil enjoys natural advantages over its competitors, such as producing more oil on less land; and that it is low in trans fats (though high in saturated fats, which are of equal concern). But it cannot be denied that a key factor in cheap production -- and thereby, in its rapid growth and high returns -- is sector-wide disregard for environmental and human rights standards and animal welfare, and easy access to financing with few environmental and social strings attached.

According to the Malaysia Estate Owners Association, development of new palm plantations in Malaysia can bring up to 22.5 percent return on investment, while investing in established plantations can give nearly 10 percent. Such returns might explain why some of the top banks and institutional investors in the US and Europe —Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Barclay’s and Fidelity Investments, as well as several major pension funds — have palm oil in their portfolios.

Ironically, without the financial markets, palm oil wouldn’t be so solvent: every 10,000 acres of new palm oil plantations requires roughly $100 million in capital investments. Since 2008, major financial institutions have extended more than $20 billion in financing to the industry, including more than $14 billion in loans, and smaller amounts through bonds and equity.

A recent report by HSBC Global Research confirms the role of banks in driving the palm oil boom: in 2002 the Southeast Asian palm oil sector sought $3 billion in external financing; in 2012, it sought $55 billion. And there is no question that the money is flowing: Indonesia’s largest bank disbursed more than $4.4 billion USD to large palm oil growers this year, and plans to lend more next year. According to the Jakarta Globe, the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association has called for investment of 300 trillion rupiah by 2020 to “replace” 7.5 million acres of forest with new palm oil plantations.

To be clear, that’s seven and half million acres of forest that might be spared the axe if it were not for bank financing.

Moving toward sustainability?

Many industry boosters and NGOs believe, against all reason, that such expanding demand can be met “sustainably.” The HSBC report predicts that, due to growing awareness and civil society pressure, banks will begin to demand stronger sustainability standards. But the report notes that, for the moment, the supply of RSPO-certified palm oil exceeds demand by about 50 percent -- and RSPO criteria themselves are increasingly considered too weak, even by WWF itself.

The HSBC report’s view that sustainability is becoming more important to investors in evaluating risk is reflected in growing concern among responsible financiers about the sector’s abuses. Early in 2013, the Government Pension Fund of Norway divested from 23 palm oil companies, including Wilmar, and last month a group of institutional investors from the U.S. and Europe, representing approximately $270 billion in assets, called for the development of transparent, traceable, deforestation-free palm oil supply chains.

On December 5, bowing to pressure from Friends of the Earth and many other civil society groups, Wilmar International, the company that dominates the palm oil market, announced a new policy to ban deforestation and exploitation from its operations and its supply chain. The announcement comes with a timeline to turn the company around by the end of 2015. Given the scale of Wilmar’s operations, it could signal a sea change in the palm oil industry.

But a policy on paper -- essentially a voluntary commitment by a corporation with an extremely checkered history -- is no substitute for strong national legislation, international norms to govern financing, and the empowerment of local communities and community-based organizations to determine the best use of their lands.

At worst, and in the absence of deeper changes, Wilmar’s new policy could serve as a smokescreen to allow the company’s rapacious practices to continue, and much like the RSPO, to provide a green sheen to an industry built on exploitation. At best, though, it could send a signal to governments and financial regulators that unless they put the reins on the financial actors, banks and investors that are driving the industry’s unchecked expansion, palm oil companies will continue to be financially motivated to reduce the world’s last rainforests to a sea of stumps.

Friends of the Earth Canada: The Bee Cause

by Friends of the Earth Canada — last modified Jan 08, 2014 12:38 PM

The Bee Cause calls for a ban on bee harmful pesticides and practices while proposing and delivering practical ways to help bees and wild pollinators.

Bees are very important in Canada with estimates of $1.7 billion value for their pollination services and $146 million of honey produced annually.


In winter 2012-13, Canada lost 29% of its honey bee colonies and the provinces of Ontario lost 40% and New Brunswick 37%.

 

Dramatic die-off of thousands of honey bee colonies in Ontario and Quebec in 2012 has been tied to the use of pesticides called “neonictinoids” while planting corn and soybeans. Honey bee mortality in 2013 seems to be as dramatic in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba with more beekeepers reporting into the federal agency, PMRA.

 

Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides that are absorbed into plant tissues including flowers. They’re highly soluble and leach into ground water and contaminate soil. They are applied to corn and soybeans and a variety of other crops using sprays, seed coatings, soil drenches and granules.

 

The European Union decided to ban the use of three neonicotinoid pesticides (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) for two years while impact studies are done.

Friends of the Earth believes that neonicotinoids should be removed from the Canadian market until proven safe.

 

Friends of the Earth Canada conducted a poll with Oracle Poll research which found over 80% of Ontarians support the ban of neonictonoids in favour of more research.

 

 

For full poll results, click here.

 

Friends of the Earth Canada hosted Dave Goulson, an awesome bee expert from the U.K., who discussed his experiences in helping the EU ban the use of neonicotinoids.

 

Watch him discuss bees and neonicotinoids here: