The highlight of my year would have to be the success of our campaign to save bees. Bees work hard for us pollinating the crops we eat, but right now they need us to put in some effort on their behalf too. Many New Zealanders could be unwittingly using pesticides called neonicotinoids in their gardens that kill bees as well as the aphids, thrips and other pests they want to get rid of.
Neonicotinoids are present in some seed varieties as well, and because they are ‘systemic’ pesticides, they stay present in the plant as it grows, and affect the bees who pollinate them later in their life cycle. But I’m pleased to say that our campaign has brought more awareness around the use of these pesticides, and at the time of writing 3215 people have signed our petition urging the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to reassess the safety of neonicotinoids. We will keep asking retailers to stop selling neonictonoid sprays such as Yates Confidor and KiwiCare Plant Health Insect Hit, with the end goal of getting neonicotinoids off the shelves, and out of our environment.
Bees are also affected by the weedkiller glyphosate, another pesticide that I have been working hard to see off the shelves. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup – a very popular weedkiller that many people have in their garden sheds and use around their homes. Glyphosate has been linked to cancer and affects gut health as well as other effects to human health. It’s toxic to fish and other animals, and has even been implicated in cases of Parkinson’s disease. But our councils use it in public spaces like parks, playgrounds and street berms and verges. This not only puts council workers at risk, it’s putting our kids and animals as well as ourselves in glyphosate’s toxic path. I have been speaking at public meetings and joining with community groups who want to see alternative methods used to control weeds in our streets and parks, like hot water application, mulching, hand weeding, and non-toxic weedkillers. We’re going to launch another campaign and petition early in the New Year. I hope that you’ll join us in not only helping to save our bees, but get these toxins out of our environment for everyone’s health.