Beekeepers slam Health Canada for allowing continued use of two neonicotinoids
AWARE Simcoe photo
News release from the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association – December 20 2017
Pesticide manufacturers get an early Christmas present from Health Canada
In announcing their Proposed Pollinator Decisions yesterday (December 19 2017), Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) opted against bees in favour of pesticide manufacturers.
PMRA intends to continue registration of two widely-used neonicotinoids, stating that the current risk to bees from seed application of Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam on corn and soy is acceptable. PMRA’s decision goes against overwhelming scientific evidence showing acute and chronic effects on bees, and the experience of Ontario beekeepers whose bees continue to suffer from a decade of overuse of neonicotinoids on soy, corn and winter wheat.
“Ontario beekeepers are suffering declining honey production, higher queen losses and continued unacceptable winter and spring losses,” says OBA president, Jim Coneybeare. “In Ontario we are still seeing dead or dying, twitching bees in front of our hives. Allowing the loss of pollinators from pesticide exposure to continue is unacceptable.”
The two neonicotinoids in question, Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam, have been applied as seed treatments on as much as 99% of corn and 65% of soy planted in Ontario. As neurotoxins, they are 8,000 – 10,000 times more lethal to bees than DDT.
Hundreds of independent scientific studies have linked neonicotinoids to pollinator declines in Europe, Canada and North America. In 2015, the Ontario government determined that only 15 – 20% of crop acreage required pest protection using neonicotinoid seed treatments and initiated legislation to limit access to pesticide-treated seed only to farmers who can demonstrate they need protection from the pests targeted by this pesticide.
PMRA has proposed cancelling registrations on some uses of neonicotinoids in food and ornamental crops but has only asked for new labelling on seed treatments related to reducing dust at planting. However, dust from planters represents less than 5% of the pesticide applied to seed and ignores the risk to bees when this persistent pesticide trans-locates via surface and ground water to neighbouring flowering plants, bushes and trees. Neonicotinoids have also been associated with the loss of aquatic invertebrates causing PMRA earlier this year to announce a ban on a third neonicotinoid, Imidacloprid. By calling attention to crop dust, PMRA perpetuates the myth that neonicotinoids could be safe for bees if applied properly at planting time.
“Ontario beekeepers are hopeful that Ontario’s Class 12 legislation will allow farmers access to crop protection in a way that also protects our vital insect pollinators,” says Coneybeare. “The only group that could possibly benefit from PMRA’s decision are the manufacturers of these pesticides.”
AWARE Simcoe note: Below are links to Health Canada postings and consultation process (90 days, to March 19, 2018). The minister in charge is Ginette Petitpas Taylor. She can be contacted by email, Ginette.PetitpasTaylor@parl.gc.ca, by phone 613-992-8072 or by postage-free mail to House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0A6.
Health Canada update on Neonicotinoid Pesticides
-the PMRA has recently published proposed re-evaluation decisions for clothianidin and thiamethoxam and two proposed registration decisions. The validity period of these two pesticides was extended to allow time to complete the necessary public consultations.
-the PMRA continues to track and investigate bee mortality incidents with the support of the appropriate provincial ministry and plans to complete in 2018 a comprehensive analysis of the incidents that occurred between 2012 and 2016.
Read full update
Consultations on pollinator re-evaluations
-Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam are neonicotinoid pesticides used by agricultural workers and licensed applicators to protect crops, crop seeds and grass from insects. Both can be applied to the ground, to leaves (foliar), and to seeds.
-In response to concerns about the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on bees and other pollinators, Health Canada is conducting three separate pollinator risk assessmentsFootnote 1 on this class of pesticides, which includes imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin.
-Health Canada is now consulting Canadians on proposed re-evaluation decisions for clothianidin and thiamethoxam based on the risk assessments.
How to comment
These consultations are open for comment from 19 December 2017 to 19 March 2018 (90 calendar days).
To comment on PRVD2017-23, PRVD2017-24, PRD2017-17, or PRD2017-18:
-Step 1 Request the full consultation document for PRVD2017-23, PRVD2017-24, PRD2017-17, or PRD2017-18 to read the Science Evaluation that is the basis of the proposed regulatory decision.
-Step 2 Submit comments to the PMRA Publications Section.
All comments received will be considered. Stakeholders may wish to provide information on the feasibility of these proposed changes, as well as potential impacts on pest management practices.
A webinar covering the technical aspects of the proposed pollinator decisions will be held January 2018. Date and registration information will be posted in the next few weeks.