Toronto, ON — Ontario is showing leadership today in announcing a draft pollinator strategy that includes important new controls on neonicotinoids (neonics), a class of neuro-active insecticides used in agriculture that have been linked to negative environmental impacts. These include the collapse of honey bee colonies, the death of other insect pollinators, and adverse effects on birds. Neonics present an unprecedented threat by endangering bees and other pollinators needed to pollinate a third of all the food we eat.
Neonic insecticides are toxic, kill useful insects like bees, and do not increase crop yields in most cases. They unnecessarily risk the health of our ecosystems and our food production system. Ontario’s plan to dramatically reduce their use is good news.
These chemicals are often applied where they have no benefit.  Recent studies by the United States Environmental Protection Agency conclude that neonicotinoid seed treatments provide little or no overall benefits to soybean production in most situations. Published data indicate that in most cases there is no difference in soybean yield when soybean seed was treated with neonicotinoids versus not receiving any insect control treatment.
With its moves to restrict use of these chemicals, Ontario joins several jurisdictions that have already restricted or banned the use of neonics, including a temporary ban that spans across all of the European Union.
The planned phase-out of the chemicals over the next two growing seasons is also appropriate as it will allow farmers and seed suppliers to obtain seed stock that has not been treated with these chemicals.
Environmental Defence looks forward to working with the agricultural community and the provincial government during the consultation on this proposal to protect pollinators and our environment and to ensure that Ontario’s food production system is healthy and sustainable.
About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada’s most effective environmental action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.
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For more information or media requests, please contact:
Jen Mayville, jmayville@environmentaldefence.ca, 416-323-9531 ext. 228, 905-330-0172 (cell)