Latest science proves controversial insecticides aren’t needed, affordable alternatives exist
Joint statement of the David Suzuki Foundation and Équiterre on new research findings by the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides
© Task Force on Systemic Pesticide
Ottawa, February 28, 2018 - A synthesis of more than 200 peer-reviewed studies from around the world calls into question the value of neonicotinoid insecticides (“neonics”) in agriculture. Canada should phase out neonics in favour of effective, affordable and less toxic alternative pest-management strategies that are tried and tested. The new research points to win-win solutions that protect farmers’ revenues and the environment.
The use of neonic seed treatments does not guarantee an increase in crop yields because, in many cases, pest populations are below levels that would cause significant damage. Meanwhile, over-reliance on neonics and other insecticides has inflicted serious damage to the ecological underpinnings of agricultural productivity. Plus, pests are developing resistance to neonics, rendering them even less effective.
The overwhelming evidence of negative effects on pollinators and other beneficial species is reason enough to phase out all neonics, as France will do starting this September. This new study is further evidence that this can and should be done without delay. Canada must recognize the need — and opportunity — for a more restrictive pesticide regulatory system. Innovative agricultural policies can support the transition toward less toxic pest-management strategies. Alternatives are already available; we just need the political will.
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- The study was published today in the academic journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research
- The Task Force on Systemic Pesticide media backgrounder is also available.
- The European Commission ended the use of three neonics (imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin) on crops that attract bees in 2013, and is now considering a proposal to expand the moratorium to more crops and other neonics. France passed a law to phase out all neonics starting in September 2018.
- Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is currently conducting several assessments of neonic risks. On December 19, 2017, the PMRA published proposed decisions following pollinator risk assessments for two main neonics, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. The proposal would end or restrict some spray applications of these neonics but allow their widespread use as seed treatments to continue.
- Separately, the PMRA has proposed to phase-out agricultural uses (including seed treatments) of a third neonic, imidacloprid, because of risks to aquatic insects. Aquatic risk assessments for CLO and THI will be published later this year.
- The David Suzuki Foundation and Équiterre have posted petitions in English and French until the end of the PMRA Consultation Period, March 19.
- For more information about neonics and ecological risks, please consult Équiterre’s fact sheet on neonics.