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article imageOntario backs restriction on bee-killing pesticides

By Tim Sandle     Jun 10, 2015 in Environment
Toronto - Ontario has issued a new regulation aimed at reducing the use of seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides. This type of nicotine-formulated pesticides is connected with the decline of bees.
Neonicotinoids (or neonics) are neuro-active insecticides similar in chemical structure to nicotine. They are used as pesticides to protect specific crops. Evidence has been mounting over the past decade that they pose a risk to bees. Maintaining bee populations is of ecological and economic importance. In Ontario it is estimated that honeybees and bumblebees generate $897 million of the $6.7 billion in agricultural crop sales, each year.
The regulation (Ontario Regulation 63/09) seeks to lower the use of neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds by 80 percent and for this to be achieved by 2017. This is a big step, given that all corn and some 60 percent of soy crops planted in the province are treated with neonics. The practice has been criticized as "overkill" by scientists and environmentalists.
The decision came following a review undertaken by the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides. This is made up of a group of scientists who examined some 1,000 published studies about the effects of neonics on wildlife, including bees.
Commenting on the measure, Lisa Gue, of the David Suzuki Foundation (a Canadian environmental pressure group) said: “Reducing use of neonics in Ontario is a welcome and necessary first step towards banning these harsh, bee-killing chemicals across Canada. Based on European countries’ experience with neonic restrictions, we look forward to healthier pollinator populations and sustained crop yields in years to come.”
The legislation, environmental campaigners note, is a step forwards. In doing so, Ontario becomes the first region in North America to do so. The new measure comes into effect on July 1, 2015.
In 2013 neonicotinoid pesticides were temporarily banned in Europe due to a 'high acute risk' to honey bees. A debate is underway as to whether this ban should be made permanent or for the restrictions to be removed.
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