In late October 2000, three thousand French beekeepers demonstrated for 3 days in front of the Bayer pesticide factory in Cormery. They were demonstrating against an organo-phosphate pesticide made by Bayer called Imidacloprid. It is sold in France as Gaucho for seed treatment, as Confidor, a spray for fruit trees, and Advantage, a treatment against fleas on dogs and cats.

As most organo-phosphates are, Imidaclprid is a neuro-toxin. The beekeepers, especially in the Sunflower growing areas, feel that they are losing bee population in their hives because of the presence of small quantities of the pesticide in the nectar of the plants. When the seeds are treated, the pesticide spreads through the plant as it grows. From the farmer’s point of view, this delivery system is ideal because it necessitates only an initial treatment and minimizes labor.

The Dutch government has banned its use completely in open-air situations. The product evidently also leaves a residue in the soil that completely destroys the Earthworm population that is so important to soil conservation. It also gets into weeds and other crops grown in the same ground. French beekeepers maintain they have lost thousands of colonies to this pesticide and a sister organo-phosphate called Fibronil produced by Aventis and are calling on the French government to remove both products from the market.

While all this is taking place in Europe, you guessed it, the Canadian and US governments are getting ready to approve the use of this pesticides on crops in the US You are going to be reading a lot about this in 2001 – stay informed, stay involved.

Source: BetterBee, Inc. 2001 Catalog, p 28, New York.