Neonicotinoid supporters fire back on provincial ban

This non-science-based restriction will disadvantage Ontario farmers

To the Expositor:

Those celebrating the Ontario government’s intentions to restrict the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments fail to appreciate that this decision will only serve to hurt both farmers and the environment.

Neonics are one of the safest insecticides ever developed and they have helped farmers adopt conservation tillage practices, which decrease greenhouse gas emissions and enrich soil health.

The product is applied directly to the seed, which means the amount used is considerably less than what is used when farmers have to spray an entire field. And because the seed is planted directly into the ground, beneficial insects, like bees, are less exposed to the product.

The plant science industry is committed to protecting pollinators. We have been working closely with all agricultural stakeholders, including beekeepers, to identify-solutions focused approaches to protect pollinator health. In fact, during the 2014 planting season there was a 70 per cent reduction in bee incidents in Ontario, which is an indication that our collaborative efforts are working.

Unfortunately, the Government of Ontario seems to have a blatant disregard for the efforts that are already underway, choosing instead to be swayed by a vocal minority that is clearly lacking in expertise on the topic and who view this as just the first step in their attack on agriculture.

The government’s announcement came on the same day that Health Canada, the federal agency responsible for ensuring the safety of pesticides, said there is not enough evidence to support a link between neonics and long-term bee health challenges.

Should the government move forward with this non-science-based restriction, it would be a big step backwards for the environment that will disadvantage Ontario farmers and stand in the way of sustainable agriculture and innovation in the province.

Sincerely,

Pierre Petelle, vice president of chemistry
CropLife Canada