NFU Applauds Ontario Government’s Application of Precautionary Principle to Neonicotinoid Use

NOVEMBER 26, 2014, Saskatoon, SK - The National Farmers Union welcomes the Ontario government's announcement earlier this week that it is going to take concrete actions to protect pollinators, including limiting the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments in corn and soybeans.
After investigating bee mortalities in corn and soybean growing regions of Ontario in 2012 and 2013 the Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) "concluded that current agricultural practices related to the use of neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seed are not sustainable."  The NFU says that despite coming to the conclusion that the current use of treated corn and soybean should not continue, PMRA decided to continue to act in the interest of the manufacturers and marketers of neonicotinoid seed treatment with only a few small changes including requiring farmers use a Bayer CropScience product as a lubricant when planting treated seed.
Ann Slater, NFU Vice President (Policy) says, "Too often, as with PMRA, Canadian governments regulate via a risk management approach which benefits chemical companies. It is heartening to see a government put the interest of our environment and our food sovereignty first by invoking the precautionary principle in setting regulations designed to address the impact neonicotinoid insecticides have on domestic and wild pollinators.  It is also an excellent change to see a government take into consideration a wide range of scientific studies, instead of relying on the data and findings supplied by chemical and seed companies - companies with a vested interest in making money selling seeds and chemicals to farmers."
In an appearance before the Senate Standing Committee of Agriculture and Forestry in May, the NFU recommended that a moratorium on the use of neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seed be implemented as soon as possible in Ontario and Quebec.  The NFU also raised the option of allowing farmers to apply for a permit to use treated seed, if need could be demonstrated by the farmer as an initial step.  In addition, the NFU's recommendations included the need for more emphasis on integrated pest management programs which are run in the public interest for hte public good and designed to benefit farmers and both natural and agricultural ecosystems.
Karen Eatwell, NFU Region 3 (Ontario) coordinator says, "The requirement within the government's Proposal for enhancing pollinator health and reducing the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in Ontario to increase training for farmers on integrated pest management is an important step forward.  As farmers, more awareness and information on IPM practices will help us protect pollinators, while also producing top quality crops."
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is welcoming comments from the public on their Pollinator Health proposal on the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry until January 25, 2015.
"I encourage all people interested in protecting our diverse population of domestic and wild pollinators and in ensuring we are able to continue to grow a wide range of fruits and vegetables in Ontario, to participate in the consultation to let the government know your thoughts and concerns," says Charlie Nixon, NFU Region 3 (Ontario) board member.
“In taking these actions, the Province of Ontario is showing that it is willing to be a leader in limiting the use of neonicotinoids,” says Eatwell.  “As farmers, consumers, government and industry we all have a chance to work together to protect the health of both domestic and wild pollinators.”
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For more information contact:
Ann Slater, NFU Vice President (Policy), 519-349-2448,
Karen Eatwell, NFU Region 3 (Ontario) Coordinator, cell 519-777-6524
Charlie Nixon, NFU Region 3 (Ontario) Board Member, cell 519-377-6583