GUELPH — Ontario’s minister of the environment and climate change said a new category labelling neonics as pesticides will allow the government to easily lump future neonics in the same class.
Minister Glen Murray told the Ontario Bee Journal, an Ontario Beekeepers’ Association newsletter, that “this new Class 12 category is intended to deal with the family of neonicotinoids, and as it grows, we can actually quickly move others in there. This class allows us more flexibility. Part of our concern is that we’ve heard that there may be a whole new series of brands coming down that river that are very similar to neonicotinoids, so we could review the list as we go forward, to head it off at the pass. We needed a new class that recognizes how unique this product is and we’ve got that.”
Murray also told the journal that it will take about two years to build a team of public employees to verify if neonic-coated seed would be needed on a farm.
However, the comments so annoyed the Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) that it posted a reply on its website blasting Murray.
“Based on a number of comments made by the minister of the environment and climate change, it is evident that the rush to impose a near-ban on neonicotinoid-treated seed is part of a broader strategy to restrict modern farming practices in Ontario,” wrote GFO communications officer Meghan Burke.
She added that Murray “made comments that suggest he intends to go after other pesticide use and promoted organic farming as one way to reduce climate change.
“Murray is using the veil of bee health to push his agenda. The 2014 annual report from the province’s apiarist notes that, following the action taken by the federal government through the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, Ontario’s grain farmers were able to contribute to a
70 % decrease in in-season bee mortality incidents during the planting season in May 2014. The same study lists nine factors involved in bee health issues across the province, with weather and starvation named the top two. Ontario’s apiarist is calling for extensive research in Ontario to better understand what is happening to honeybees in the province, advice Murray seems to reject.”
GFO CEO Barry Senft added: “It is stunning that the government has provincial, evidence-based information readily available to them that demonstrates that the proposed neonicotinoid ban will do little to help pollinators, yet Glen Murray continues to push these regulations as a solution to bee health. He isn’t interested in the reality and impacts of these regulations, but rather a broader agenda on modern agriculture.”