Toronto, ON –Environmental Defence applauds the Ontario government for taking strong action to protect bees, birds, butterflies, and other pollinators from neonics. The new rules, released today, aim to reduce the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds by 80 per cent by 2017.
Ontario’s strong stance clearly recognizes that the harmful effects of neonics far outweigh the benefits of their use.
Pollinator health is critical to Ontario’s agricultural sector. Bees and other pollinators are responsible for pollinating crops worth $897 million annually, including many fruit, vegetable, and field crops. But lately, the number of bee deaths has far exceeded the generally accepted level of 15 per cent. In the winter of 2013-2014, bee deaths in Ontario reached 58 per cent. Ontario had no choice but to take decisive action to protect bees.
Neonics are proven to be toxic to bees, birds, and ecosystems. Numerous reports—including the one released recently by the federal Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry—have confirmed that neonic pesticides are affecting pollinator health and harming bee populations.
Ontario’s approach is reasonable and balances the need to protect the health of pollinators with the need to protect agricultural productivity. Last month’s  draft report from Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) shows that coating seeds with neonicotinoid treatments has minimal benefit to corn and soybean yields.
Encouragingly, Ontario’s approach includes training for farmers to help them evaluate the health of their soils and identify the special cases when the use of neonics is needed for extra pest control.
Ontario is the first and only jurisdiction in North America to implement a system to reduce the use of neonics. We hope that this will trigger action by other jurisdictions to protect the health of pollinators across the continent.
About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE (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 to arrange an interview please contact:
Jen Mayville, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext. 228; 905-330-0172 (cell); jmayville@environmentaldefence.ca