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Leaked government report shows virtually no benefits from neonics: provinces must act to ban bee-killing pesticide

Friday, May 22nd 2015 10:39:50am

(Ottawa, ON, May 22, 2015) Canada's Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) promised to report on their review of the “value” of neonicotinoid pesticides in 2014 to be followed by a public consultation. This is a key element of PMRA's five year review of the bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides conducted in lock step with the US Environmental Protection Agency's own five year review.

Now it appears PMRA's draft findings are out and about before their report is. As viewed on a recent news story, the draft of the PMRA value review reports only 0.4 per cent yield benefit from coated soy seeds and approximately 3.4 per cent yield benefit for corn. The finding on coated soy seed demonstrating virtually no value is consistent with that reported over six months ago by the US EPA: “In comparison to the next best alternative pest control measures, neonicotinoid seed treatments likely provide $0 in benefits to growers...”

The draft PMRA's report findings have urgent implications for Ontario which made a precautionary decision to reduce the use of coated soy and corn seed by 80% by 2017.

“Arguably, based on the findings of PMRA's draft value assessment, Ontario could revise its decision to a full ban that would save Ontario farmers considerable dollars,” said Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, Friends of the Earth Canada.

Friends of the Earth believes it is time to re-examine Canada's pesticide regulatory processes. PMRA abandoned their responsibility to protect the environment when they allowed conditional approvals of pesticide products to roll over, sometimes for as long as a decade. PMRA has been negligent in requiring the specified research before permitting the pesticides into wide use in agriculture and in the market place.

Olivastri continued, “I believe PMRA's negligence is costing farmers millions of dollars while, at the same time, killing off important beneficial pollinators -- by direct lethal exposure or through slower sub-lethal poisoning from neonicotinoids.”

“There's a fox in the chicken coop,” concluded Ms. Olivastri, “and the fox is the pesticide manufacturers reaping huge profits from farmers. It does appear there's virtually no benefit, only vast hazards to our environment from neonicotinoids. If the Canadian government can't get its act together to do its job then the provinces must lead to ban the use of neonicotinoid pesticides.”

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For more information, or to schedule interviews, please contact:
Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, Friends of the Earth Canada, (613) 724-8690, beatrice@foecanada.org.

Friends of the Earth Canada (www.foecanada.org) is the Canadian member of Friends of the Earth International, the world’s largest grassroots environmental network campaigning on today’s most urgent environmental and social issues.

Neonicotinoids work by interfering with insects’ nervous systems. Three neonicotinoid pesticides are subject to a temporary ban in the European Union (EU) from 2013 due to evidence that they harm bees. In light of the EU ban, Friends of the Earth has been calling for a Canada-wide ban on the registration of neonicotinoids since 2013. In Canada, the federal government controls registration of pesticides products and the provinces control sale and use of the pesticides. Ontario is the first jurisdiction in North American to restrict neonic use permanently for neonic-coated corn and soy seed.