Why are Ontario’s grain farmers tweeting pictures of #grainbugs?

One of the biggest issues facing grain farmers this past year was new regulations brought into effect by the provincial government, severely restricting the use of a popular class of pesticide called neonicotinoids (or neonics). We’ve written about the regulations, and the ensuing legal challenge, in the past; I encourage you to dig a little deeper at GFO.ca. The most important thing to keep in mind is that farmers believe the science that says neonics don’t actually harm bees – science that was confirmed in January by Health Canada.

CBC News reported last night that Ontario farmers were “Twitter spamming” pictures of bugs in their fields, and some local outlets referred to it as a “Twitter bomb”. That’s not really the case.

It can be really difficult to have conversations about neonics, or pesticides in general. The #grainbugs pictures are just another piece of that puzzle. The thing is, farmers tweet these pictures all the time: sharing pictures and asking for advice from other farmers while you’re scouting your field is something every farmer with a smartphone already does. By encouraging farmers to use the #grainbugs hashtag, we want to let everyone in on that conversation. Grain Farmers of Ontario is also collecting photos and insights from the field as part of its assessment of the impact of the regulations.

Finding a bug in a field is a moment of pure uncertainty. What is it? Where did it come from? Will it damage my crop? How badly will it damage my crop? What can I do about it? For a few minutes, all you can do is ask questions and imagine that one little bug destroying hundreds of acres. This summer, Ontario’s farmers lost an important tool for managing pests; if you follow along with #grainbugs, you’ll see exactly what that means.

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