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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May 31, 2016

 

For Immediate Release

 

Irreversible Agricultural Consequences Possible as Government Opens Door to Pathogens Destroying World Bee Colonies

 

Steve Kent, Agrifoods Critic for the Official Opposition, is condemning the recklessness of the Ball government for opening the door to the very pathogens that are destroying bee colonies around the world and jeopardizing the agricultural industries that depend on bee pollination.

 

“Because of our location, the island of Newfoundland is one of the few places in the world where the local bee population is thriving, virtually free of the pathogens that are destroying bee colonies and jeopardizing agricultural industries globally,” said Kent. “Ours is one of the few places that have not reported the varroa mite that is killing bees around the world. Such pathogens have reduced bee populations across Canada by a third, seriously affecting the production of foods and other vital agricultural products.”

 

“Local beekeepers and researchers are alarmed by the government’s decision to permit the importation of bees when that means running the risk of contaminating and ruining a local population of bees that is currently virtually disease free. The government cannot be certain that testing will find all signs of viruses. What if a test fails to find signs of a virus when the virus is actually present? That is a risk we do not need to run,” said Kent. “For short-term gain, the province is risking significant long-term pain. One local beekeeper has been quoted as saying ‘we have a clean colony; why take that chance?’”

 

“If the government had common sense and foresight, it would be investing to grow the local bee population and export disease-free bees to jurisdictions around the world where the mass reduction in bee populations is damaging food production and driving up costs. But instead of seizing an incredible opportunity, the government is destroying that opportunity with a decision that, once made, will be irreversible, with a potentially devastating impact that will affect all of us,” he said. “It will be too late to turn back the clock once the damage has been done.”

 

Kent said he was astonished to hear government members joking about the issue in the House of Assembly, showing reckless contempt for the warnings of farmers and scientists and a callous disregard for the province’s agricultural sector.

 

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Media Contact: Heather MacLean, Director of Communications, Office of the Official Opposition

 

(709) 729 6105, heathermaclean@gov.nl.ca

 

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