Ontario posts draft regulations on neonics – important first step to protect pollinators

Mar 25 2015

TORONTO — The Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) continues to support the Ontario Government in its plan to achieve an 80 per cent reduction in the use of neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds over the next two years.

A draft regulation issued this week on Ontario’s Environmental Registry is out for public comment with implementation planned for July of this year.

"Ontario is moving quickly to address a serious problem. Ontarians have expressed overwhelming support for action to protect pollinators and this regulation is an important step in that direction," said Kathleen Cooper, Senior Researcher with CELA.

Scientific evidence is increasingly strong linking neonicotinoid pesticides, or neonics, to abnormally high death rates among honeybees and harm to other wild pollinators including birds, butterflies, bumblebees and earthworms. This evidence is compiled in a comprehensive review prepared by the international Task Force on Systemic Pesticides. Worldwide, neonics have become the most widely used pesticides often to replace older hazardous products. Nearly all corn and 60 per cent of soybean seeds planted in Ontario are treated with neonics. They are also widely used on other crops.

“Unfortunately, with neonics, we have replaced bad chemistry with more bad chemistry instead of moving towards inherently safer choices,” Cooper noted. “Ontario is choosing to act decisively and we will support this regulation as an important step towards more ecologically sustainable practices by Ontario’s grain farmers,” she said.

The regulation proposes early measures to take effect during the 2016 season and most requirements taking effect in 2017. The transition from neonics will also be supported by training programs. So far, Ontario is the first jurisdiction in North America to take regulatory action on neonics to directly address threats to pollinators. It follows more stringent measures taken in 2014 by the European Commission where a two year moratorium was placed on some uses of neonics.

CELA will comment on the draft regulations for the May 7th deadline.

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For more information:
Kathleen Cooper, Senior Researcher 705-341-2488 kcooper@cela.ca