NFU sees moratorium on neonicotinoids

The Senate committee is studying the importance of bees to food production in Canada

Bees in a hive

The National Farmers Union (NFU) appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Forestry May 1 to call for a five-year moratorium on the use of neonicotinoids on corn and soybeans in Ontario.

The Senate committee is currently studying the importance of bees and bee health in the production of honey, food and seed in Canada.

“It has been little more than a decade since the product was introduced and already neonicotinoids are being used across Canada at an unprecedented scale, resulting in significant harm to bees and likely to wild pollinators and natural ecosystems as well,” said Ann Slater, NFU vice-president, policy in a release.

Slater said the NFU wants immediate action to reduce the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments in field crops.

“The Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has already determined that neonicotinoid seed treatments in corn and soybeans in Ontario and Quebec were the major contributor to bee deaths in 2012 and again in 2013,” noted Slater. “It concluded that the current use of neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed is not sustainable, but continues to accommodate the sale and use of these insecticides without requiring chemical and seed companies to accept responsibility for the harm they are causing to bees and native pollinators.”

The NFU is suggesting farmers be allowed to apply for a one-time use of a neonicotinoid seed treatment only if they can demonstrate through a soil test or monitoring program that their crop will be threatened by pest pressure and demonstrate that there are no alternative control options. It also wants farmers to require permits to purchase the neonicotinoid seed treatments and that they be purchased separately from the seed.

The organization is also calling for more research into alternative and ecological farming practices that do not depend on chemical pesticides and public-funded programs that monitor the effects of various pest control approaches on pollinator populations.

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