By Rhonda Massad
Repeated application of pesticides over 15 to 20 years can’t be good for the environment.
As cities across the West Island and pretty much everywhere prepared their 2015 budgets many have included an extra amount to be allocated to applying Tree Azin to protect trees against the Emerald Ash Borer that was believed to attack only Ash trees. If that wasn’t a tragedy in itself, as it turns out the EAB is just as happy to munch on other trees as well.
It has been discovered that the EAB is not limited to feeding only on ash trees. The EAB has now adapted an appetite for whitefringe trees, and other close relatives to this species such as forsythia, privet and lilacs could be affected as well. The EAB does not affect species such as maples and hickory that are not related or similar to the ash – yet.
TreeAzin, a Class 4 pesticide determined by the Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency, is the most widely used product available in Canada, it is produced by the BioForest company from the extract of neem seeds a product of the neem tree. It works on the insect’s hormonal system, not on the digestive or nervous system and does not lead to development of resistance in future generations. TreeAzin is a systemic insecticide, therefore is not sprayed like some insecticides but injected directly into the sapwood.
The TreeAzin label quotes that it is toxic to aquatic organisms. It is also toxic to bee brood. The product is systemic and is transported upwards through the tree. Bees may be exposed to residues in floral pollen or nectar resulting from tree injections. Applications to hardwood trees must be made post bloom.
TreeAzin is effective against a variety of insects that consume tree tissues, not only will EAB larvae be affected, other insects feeding on the treated tree will be as well. Which means the trees that are treated with this pesticide will have no insects left for the birds to eat. Our song birds will be forced to move on and it is damaging to bees.
According to Health Canada studies determined that the health effects in animals given repeated oral doses of NeenAzal included effects on the blood, liver, thyroid and kidney. When given to pregnant animals there were irregular bone ossification as well as heart abnormalities. Effects were present in both mother and fetus.
There are no long term studies on the impact of this relatively new pesticide and the residue left in the water supply, which is claimed to be minimal after one application. My deepest concern is that after applying this insecticide to our a huge number of trees over the span of 15 to 20 year will have a devastating impact on our health in the future. We do not have the answer but repeated applications of pesticides can’t be good. Government needs to take a different approach and cut their losses and replace the canopy instead of trying to save what is destined for extinction.