(but then we have to get back to work because they’re not safe yet)
It’s been quite a year in Canada for action on bee killing pesticides. And with the US EPA poised to be gutted by the new US administration, we’d better keep working hard to insist on enough scientific capacity in the federal government’s ranks to deliver on the promised re-evaluations of neonicotinoids. We’ve been suspicious that many of the Canadian commitments to re-evaluate neonicotinoids were leaning heavily on the work of the US EPA and their Californian counterparts.
With your help, Friends of the Earth Canada campaigners were highly instrumental in achieving a fundamental change – pesticides will no longer be allowed on the Canadian market with a “conditional approval” meaning not all the science was in before brands of pesticides were allowed to enter the commercial marketplace. There is still a long way to go to fix pesticide management in the Canada but this reckless practice of conditional registration has been abolished.
On November 23, Health Canada’s PMRA announced imidacloprid, one of the oldest and most widely used neonicotinoid pesticides will be taken off the market. It’s been found in just about every water body and it’s considered harmful to aquatic species like very sensitive mayflies. Unfortunately, the PMRA is proposing a long 3-5 year phase-out. And already pesticide users are complaining about the lack of replacement pesticides and the “impossibility” of continuing with their crops without this pesticide. We’re concerned that growers may replace imidicloprid with newer but equally harmful systemic pesticides or manage to persuade PMRA to give them an extension for its use.
It’s important that Agriculture Canada and Environment Canada weigh in here with new policy in support of integrated pest management – in other words, farming that only uses pesticides IF needed and, more importantly, for organic agriculture. We must re-learn the lessons of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. The prophylactic use of pesticides, some of the them over 700 times stronger than DDT, is driven by a profit motive that doesn’t account for the health of mayflies and bees nor for the overall security of our food supply.
It is very clear to us that Canadians know that mayflies and bees, butterflies and song birds are vital creatures – they are today’s canaries in the coal mines. If we’re poisoning these creatures, we’re poisoning our food chain.
So while we await this next report, the re-evaluation of imidicloprid’s impacts on bees and then, the special reviews for two other widely used neonicotinoids, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, we’ve proceeded to the courts. Friends of the Earth, along with The David Suzuki Foundation, Ontario Nature and the Wilderness Committee, are represented by Ecojustice, to argue that a number of pesticides containing two neonicotinoid active ingredients (Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam) are unlawfully registered in Canada. We expect to see hearings in 2017.
Saving the bees means getting your hands dirty in the garden as well as advocating for changes to the way Canada regulated pesticides. Friends of the Earth is working hard to bring both environmental and advanced scientific methods to the re-evaluation of neonicotinoids. This will be a critical year. We’ll be glad to have your voice in support of calls for action and if you haven’t yet made your 2016 donation, we’d be grateful for whatever you can give to help save the bees.
Make your donation before midnight December 31st to get a 2016 tax creditable receipt.