By Farmers Forum staff
Health Canada announced last month it’s aiming to have all agricultural uses of two neonicotinoid pesticides ended in Canada within five years.
Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency had been reviewing clothianidin and thiamethoxam, which are the two most commonly used neonics in Ontario.
Prior to the Ontario government’s restrictions, introduced in 2015, 100 per cent of the corn crop and 60 per cent of the soybeans planted in Ontario were treated with neonics. In 2017, 76 per cent of corn and 43 per cent of soybean acres were treated with neonics.
Though bees had been the initial target for critics of neonic use, when it came time to review the literature, Health Canada blamed a threat to aquatic insects for cutting out neonics. “Recent water monitoring data indicate that neonicotinoids being detected in some Canadian water bodies are at levels that cause harm to aquatic insect populations,” Health Canada wrote in a news release.
Maizex director of business management Steve Denys said although corn and soybean growers now have alternatives, growers of other crops such as canola and potatoes do not. He said the government is looking at the products in isolation.
“When we remove some of these products, you’re basically telling us to go back to using what we were using before in terms of more foliar insecticides, and we don’t want to go back there,” he said. “If we get rid of these products and now we need to spray 10 times whereas we sprayed once before, what’s that impact? Some of the studies and some of the extrapolations they’re making from some studies to come to their conclusions do not match up with reality.”
The Grain Farmers of Ontario were long-standing critics of Ontario’s decision to restrict access to neonicotinoids, arguing that the province didn’t have the science to justify the restriction.
Health Canada has, however, opened its decision to a 90-day consultation (open until Nov. 13), during which farmers can submit their concerns by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 613-736-3799.
Final decisions are not expected until the end of 2019.
The first neonic to come onto Health Canada’s radar, imidacloprid, was the least-used in Ontario. In 2016, Health Canada proposed a complete end to agricultural uses of imidacloprid within five years.