Time to restrict ALL uses of neonicotinoid pesticides
As you know, Ontario plans to restrict the use of bee-killing pesticides. In 2014, the Ontario government announced it intended to restrict the use of neonicotinoid pesticides. In order to develop the plan and regulations, the province began conducting consultations and invited the public to comment.
A number of these public consultations took place this past December and the majority went very well, with farmers and other stakeholders able to give input on the new rules. A meeting on December 19th, however, was very different.
The head of the Ontario Grain Growers (OGG), accompanied by (former MP) Ted Menzies, the new CEO of industry lobby group CropLife, stood up at the beginning of the meeting, condemned the government, and then (took their toys and) stomped out.
DIVIDE & CONQUER
The OGG and CropLife intend to undermine the consultations and are already preparing a pre-federal election ground offensive, and the battlefield is Ontario’s urban/rural divide. You may remember CropLife is in the midst of a major lobbying and public relations campaign to prevent Canada from adopting a ban on bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides (an action the European Union took more than a year ago). They know they have to defeat any regulatory action in Ontario or risk seeing it spread across the country.
GOOD FIRST STEP
The Ontario government’s plan applies only to corn and soybean crops in the province and does not prohibit other uses of neonicotinoid pesticides. The new plan will require farmers to demonstrate a need for them, replacing the present practice of spraying all seeds before delivering them to the farmer.
The province confidently states that it can eliminate neonicotinoid use by 80% on these crops without a significant impact on production. New rules are expected to be in place by July 2015 (and apply to the 2016 crop growing year).
Sierra Club Canada Foundation is supportive of the plan because it will be the first action by any jurisdiction in North America (the European Union acted in 2013). It should be viewed, however, as only a first step because it applies strictly to soybean and corn seed treatment and not other crops. As a precautionary measure to protect pollinators, we’re calling for restrictions on all uses of neonicotinoid pesticides. We see no logical reason to treat other uses of the bee-killing chemicals differently.
BEE HEARD TODAY
We hear from our sources that CropLife and OGG’s lobbying of late against restricting bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides has been fierce (“unprecedented”). So let’s make sure Ontario stays strong. One way of doing that is submitting comments, and we have until January 25th. We’ve provided a draft letter here, but we encourage you to personalize it and emphasize your concerns.
As always, a sincere thanks for taking action.