Canada in a dilemma over neonicotinoid's use as crop pesticide

Publish time: 13th October, 2014      Source:
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October 13, 2014



Canada in a dilemma over neonicotinoid''s use as crop pesticide



Designed to protect corn, soy and other crops, neonicotinoid pesticides have been scrutinised for its alleged harmful effects on the honey bee populations.



There have also been calls for its regulation and even suspension.



However, banning its use seems to produce an unintended side effect. The recent destruction of some rapeseed crops in the UK had been blamed on the ban of the chemicals which could have been used to counter infestations by cabbage stem flea beetles.



Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Gord Miller, an environmental commissioner in Canada, had called for Ontario to consider a more eco-friendly approach to pest control including crop rotation, improved planting techniques and pest resistant crops.



Believing that there''s sufficient evidence linking decreasing bee populations to neonicotinoid use, Miller recommends that the province exercises independence in controlling the pesticides by 2015 if a federal initiative, currently in progress, is of little effect.



"The new information that is just before us and very alarming is that the impact on the ecosystem is much greater and much broader. The bees are the canary in the coalmine," Miller warned.



The commissioner cautioned that the disappearance of the insects, which are vital for the pollination of crops in Ontario, could bring about an ecological and economic crisis. However, despite worrying developments, he noted that it may take time for farmers to adapt to the change.



Miller''s sentiment echoes that of European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, Tonio Borg, during a European Parliament vote to suspend neonicotinoid seed treatments last year.



"I pledge to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over US$28 billion annually to European agriculture, are protected," Borg declared.



Currently, Canada''s federal government is studying neonicotinoid effects on bee colonies in agricultural areas. Ontario has announced that it will wait for the results of those trials before deciding on how to restrict neonicotinoids, as has been done in Europe and proposed in the US.



"These pesticideswere approved by the federal government and subsequently scheduled for use by the provincial government …right now, they are embedded in the agriculture system. The seeds for the next few years of corn and soybeans are already being coated," Miller added.



Whether it''s a viable solution, to ban or regulate neonicotinoiduse more strictly, remains to be seen. In fact, during late September 2014, UK farmers were granted use of one such product as part of an emergency action to combat pest infestation in rapeseed crops, a decision that reportedly came too late.


This year, two neonicotinoid pesticides have received approval for autumn use by the UK''s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), a good news for farmers trying to save rapeseed crops.


The pesticides, Bayer''s Biscayaand Certis Europe''s InSyst, have been awaiting approval since July 2014.