Evidence of meeting #44 for Agriculture and Agri-Food in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was corn.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

4:25 p.m.

Owner, Ferguson Apiaries

Bill Ferguson

Do you mean this year?

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Huron—Bruce, ON

No. How many years have they used neonicotinoids on corn for air seeders?

4:25 p.m.

Owner, Ferguson Apiaries

Bill Ferguson

That I couldn't tell you. I know that it's been used for quite a few years, but it is being used on more and more seeds now it seems.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Huron—Bruce, ON

There are a lot more air seeders around than there have ever been. They're more popular.

4:25 p.m.

Owner, Ferguson Apiaries

Bill Ferguson

Our neighbour, Reiger, said that probably 90% of the corn is planted with air seeders now.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Huron—Bruce, ON

Right, yes.

4:25 p.m.

President, Munro Honey & Munro's Meadery

Davis Bryans

Corn is quite in demand. The price is high. A lot of ground that was normally pasture or hay fields was worked up and planted in corn this year, so there's a lot more acreage in corn.

What he's buying isn't explained to the farmer. They just say, “You know, if you get this on it, you're going to get another bushel to the acre”. They don't tell him that it's going to kill the bees. They're selling this poison, but they don't tell them. They're saying that for $5, you're going to get another bushel to the acre. Farmers aren't even aware that they're buying this product.

June 4th, 2012 / 4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Huron—Bruce, ON

Spraying herbicides and pesticides on any crop is obviously nothing new. What's the difference between the analysis you did maybe five, six, or 10 years ago versus today? They've been using pesticides for years. What's the difference between the older data versus the newer data you have now?

4:25 p.m.

Owner, Ferguson Apiaries

Bill Ferguson

It would appear that the new pesticides are much more potent, and we did have trouble with Furadan in the past in sweet corn areas. Even though Furadan was a really bad poison for us—it knocked the bees just about as bad as this stuff—it was over in a couple of days.

The poison they're using now has a shortest half-life of 107 days, and according to the research, they're finding it in the soil 18 to 19 years later. The neonicotinoids are the most easily translocated poison there is. It will translocate and flow with the subsoil moisture, so it's going to naturally flow to the lowest spots.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Huron—Bruce, ON

On the flow then, has any research been done on how far the neonicotinoid will travel in the air?

4:25 p.m.

Owner, Ferguson Apiaries

Bill Ferguson

In the air?

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Huron—Bruce, ON

Yes, so if you sprayed it in one spot—

4:25 p.m.

Owner, Ferguson Apiaries

Bill Ferguson

It's not sprayed.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Huron—Bruce, ON

How far will the dust travel? Have any studies been done on that?

4:25 p.m.

President, Munro Honey & Munro's Meadery

Davis Bryans

No, but this year was very dry in our area. When the farmers were able to get on the fields on April 18, or just a little before that, they worked them down so fine, the dust was flying from the dust of the field plus the air seeders. I don't know if they mentioned it, but they mix a talc to make the corn flow through the air seeder properly. There are different types of air seeders: high-pressure air seeders and low-pressure air seeders.

Low-pressure air seeders don't move the volumes of air that the high-pressure air seeders do, but we're the guinea pigs testing this new machinery, so I don't know what to say about....