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Pesticide 'contaminating' Prairie wetlands: scientist (2014) (cbc.ca)
65 points by asaegyn 73 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 14 comments

Many of the large shallow lakes in the Prairie provinces are drying up as well. For example Miquelon lake in central Alberta has shrunk by at least half since European settlers arrived. Not to mention the fact that many smaller lakes are now overgrown with algal blooms during the summer months due to fertilizer runoff. There is very little natural prairie left in the west, and pressure from agriculture and development are growing every year.

Question is, is there anything we can do about it, or is it just the price we pay for human development? When you look at the ecological sterilization that happened in places like the San Joaquin valley in California things start to look pretty bleak.

It only takes a small, vocal minority to turn the tide of civilization.

Vote with your wallet, and demand organic produce and pasture raised, locally butchered meat. The uptick in price is quite small, and the differences (both health and flavor) are huge:

- Pasture grasslands sequester carbon and increase topsoil quantity/quality

- Industrial farming, livestock finishing and meat processing is of dramatically lower quality, both ethically and nutritionally

Just 5% of the population expressing their refusal to consume industrially raised and finished meat, and non-organic produce would up-end the supply chain -- because even non-interested parties would begin to change their buying habits, to satisfy the "wacko" uncle or cousin who only eats organic, pasture-raised stuff...

In the US, 'organic' does not mean sustainable. Voting with your wallet is not enough. This situation requires large scale change and regulation to remedy.

> 'organic' does not mean sustainable

Certainly true. There is a particular sustainability problem I have been thinking about for some time: the "organic" versus "low till" conundrum.

Reducing chemical usage through organic farming practices is good. Reducing tillage is very good for the soil biome -- soil that has been undisturbed for 5 years has hugely more organic matter, hugely more worms and other healthy organism, better water retention, better aeration, the list goes on.

Here is the conflict: In order to achieve low- or no-till farming, chemical weed control is usually necessary. In order to avoid chemicals and stay organic, mechanic weed control is the norm, causing much soil disruption.

Wholesale conversion to organic farming practices will never let us restore the soil biome unless we come up with a new solution for weed control that is cost competitive.

And even if it was, the uptick in price is usually quite high; it seems most groceries have the highest margins on things marketed as healthy/sustainable.

Don't confuse margins with prices. I can't speak for the grocery stores, but at the producer level organic growing practices are higher cost. The farmer may get a higher price and yet also have a lower margin. That is certainly true for broad-field crops such as organic soy beans -- the higher price for organic at the grain terminal often does not make up for lower yields and higher input costs. I have seen broad-field crop farmers attempt organic and give it up as a risky, often money losing venture. (Source: I am a fly-over country landlord with skin in the game.)

Yeah, your point about the production costs is correct and seems easily generalizable. I don't think I can generalize the grocers the same way. This is an anecdote from 6 years ago, so take it that way, but in my area the average margin over all the stores and all of their items was just under 2%. Iirc, most grocers were taking losses on certain staples while maintaining a +50% markup on food marketable as healthy. I don't mean organic, just things perceived to be healthy. Some discount grocers and farmers' markets have opened business since then, so it may not be the same anymore.

Has anyone else noticed that flies seem slower now than years ago? I feel like now I have a 50% or better chance of getting a bug with my hand. Seems like years ago it was much more rare.

This is anecdotal obviously, but we recently moved to a new house a bit further away from the city (Western Europe), and we definitely noticed that the flies are very slow and generally apathetic / lacking self-preservation instinct.

Many times they land on a table and you can nudge them and they don't even fly away. We attributed it to the recent change in location, like maybe the flies here are stupid or since we have many more lizards maybe there is weird selection bias.

There is also virtually no mosquitoes even though we are near a lake and when we used to come here a few decades ago they were everywhere, it was a impossible to stay outside without repellent.

article is from 2014. these are already banned in EU. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43910536 is it not banned in north america yet?

Nope. Some US states have restricted them, but neonicotinoids aren't banned at the US federal level.


edit: Looks like Canada's restricting some, but the bans roll out over several years. https://www.cbc.ca/radio/quirks/august-18-2018-canada-bans-n...

In 2014, the federal governing party in Canada was the Conservative Party, renowned for both their extreme hostility to science-based environmental policy, and their friendliness to large businesses in the prairie provinces. No-one with any familiarity with Canadian federal politics expected the Conservatives to lift a finger to ban neonics. This is the same party that made is a fireable offense for federally-employed scientists to speak to the media without prior approval.

What's become unexpectedly shameful is the new government under the Liberal Party elected in late 2015. That party keeps claiming to be in favour of science-based policy, but they've dragged their feet on the neonic issue just as much as the Conservatives. The general consensus is that the Liberals are worried about rural votes in the prairie provinces in the general election to be held later this year, so they're trying to avoid any action that could be perceived as "anti farmer".

The election is "over" by the time the polls in Ontario are tallied, so it is unlikely that the prairie "rural votes" are a significant issue.

The three prairie provinces have almost 20% of the seats in the HoC, and rural ridings in those provinces have disproportionately more MPs than in urban ridings. Western farming communities are not an insignificant voting bloc on the federal stage. It's not in the DNA of any Canadian federal party, all of which tend towards "big tent" habits, to simply write off any area of the country. Even the Conservatives consistently made serious efforts to court Quebec voters over the past decade despite their leaders' backgrounds in the Quebec-hostile Reform Party.

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