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article imageHealth Canada proposes ban on neonicotinoid pesticides

By Karen Graham     Nov 25, 2016 in Environment
Health Canada is considering a ban on Imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid pesticide used in agriculture, on trees, and turf because studies show it is seeping into Canadian waterways at levels that are harmful to insects and the ecosystem.
Health Canada released the results of its environmental assessment of Imidacloprid on Wednesday, saying the agency has frequently detected high levels of the pesticide in Canadian waterways. In agricultural regions, the levels are "well above concentrations that may result in toxic effects to insects."
CBC Canada is reporting that while Neonicotinoid pesticides are the most widely used class of pesticides in the world, they are also facing increasing restrictions on their use because of the adverse effects they have on bees, one of the world's natural pollinators.
Bees and other pollinators play a crucial role in agriculture and the environment.
Bees and other pollinators play a crucial role in agriculture and the environment.
Paul J. Richards, AFP/File
Health Canada used a number of sources while conducting its studies on Imidacloprid, including scientific information provided by pesticide manufacturers, provinces, and Environment and Climate Change Canada, as well as published scientific information.
Neonicotinoids work by affecting the central nervous system of insects and are often used on corn and canola crops as well as on everything from lawns to Christmas trees. They are also used on dogs and cats as a flea repellent. But Health Canada also cites studies that show these pesticides also kill off beneficial insects.
In its review of imidacloprid, Health Canada found it is getting into the environment through run-off and drifting spray and is "being detected frequently in Canadian surface and groundwater." The pesticide also poses a potential risk to soil dwelling organisms and beneficial arthropods, says the report.
imidacloprid was developed by Bayer in the 1980s, and it's still the key manufacturer of products containing the chemical. The company says it is "extremely disappointed" in Health Canada's announcement.
Farmland
Farmland in Southern Ontario
Mark M. Drewe
In a statement, Bayer responded to the announcement by saying: "We will conduct a thorough review of their proposal and supporting data, and provide input into the consultation process. Canadian growers value imidacloprid due to its efficacy, safety to applicators and favorable environmental profile when used according to label instructions."
Health Canada is taking Public Comments for 90 days, until February 17, 2017. A final decision will be made after a study of the public's input.
In a statement, Health Minister Jane Philpott said, "Health Canada is taking the findings of the re-evaluation of this pesticide seriously, and is taking action to further protect the environment."
But Prince Edward Island potato farmers are not very happy with Health Canada's proposal to do away with imidacloprid. "It is a tool that's used in the potato industry for managing Colorado potato beetle, which is a chewing insect which chews the foliage of potato plants," P.E.I. Potato Board general manager Greg Donald told CBC Canada on Friday.
A moratorium on neonicotinoids by the European Union was issued in 2013, a decision the UK did not support. In 2015, the UK went ahead and lifted the ban after emergency applications of the pesticide were used on the oilseed rape crop by the National Farmers Union.
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