Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Beekeepers launch class-action lawsuit

Two Ontario honey-making families, owners of Sun Parlor Honey and Munro Honey, have hired Siskind LLP of London, Ont., to launch a class-action lawsuit to recover losses related to neonicitinoid seed treatments.

They are also seeking to “alter the behaviour of neonicinitoid producers so that a product that does not present these risks to the bee population is investigated and produced.”

They say the lawsuit will be filed this week and will seek between $400 and $450 million. Siskind is taking on the lawsuit on a contingency basis, meaning the families and others who join the lawsuit will not need to pay the lawyers, but will have to yield them a percentage of whatever they win from the lawsuit.

There is a range of opinion among researchers about the degree to which neonicinitoid pesticides are responsible for the death of bees and collapse of beekeepers’ colonies.

There is ongoing research, including some at the University of Guelph, to determine the degree of damage neonicinitoids cause to colonies and to find ways to reduce damage.

Corn producers whose seed is usually treated to prevent insect damage have been advised to use additives that reduce the amount of pesticide that escapes into the air when they are using air seeders to plant.

The Ontario government has also appointed a Ontario Bee Health Working Group.

The lawsuit alleges that Bayer CropScience and Syngenta have been “negligent in their manufacture, sale and distribution of neonicinitoids in Ontario . . .”

Siskinds specializes in class-action lawsuits.