In a North American first, the Ontario government has introduced their plan to permanently reduce use of systemic neurotoxin pesticides by 80% by 2017.  They’ve picked the biggest opportunity in Ontario to make change to protect pollinator health.

Of the almost seven million acres of field crops planted each year in Ontario, the two largest crops are approximately 2.4 million acres of corn and 2.5 million acres of soybeans.  Almost 100 percent of the corn seed and 60 percent of the soy seed has been coated with neonicotinoids – a use “just in case” it’s needed – not the targeted use intended when the pesticides were registered for conditional use by the federal government.

The Ontario government’s plan will designate coated seed as a new class of pesticide and allow their use in exceptional circumstances.  By providing a target date of 2017, this is a practical approach that permits farmers and their suppliers to make the necessary changes in a timely way.  It also allows those who believe their situation is exceptional, to make the case for limited use of the pesticides.

By planning a permanent reduction of 80 percent, the Ontario government has demonstrated that they’re reading the science – like the IUCN Task Force on Systemic Pesticides and its review of 800 peer-reviewed scientific papers. And they’re adopting a precautionary approach to protect honey bees and wild pollinators, our soil and waterways in order to ensure a sustainable food supply, a healthy ecosystem and a strong economy.

And unlike the federal government that cracks down on citizens groups writing to them about saving bees from neonicotinoid poisoning, Ontario is asking citizens to weigh in with their ideas and concerns.    They are providing a 60 day comment period for their announcement.  With this invitation to engage, there is no worry for a charitable group, large or small, to be nailed by the federal authorities over  political activity.

The Grain Farmers of Ontario are annoyed over this announcement acting as though this is an impractical and unrealistic approach.  Quite the contrary in our opinion.  Ontario is providing a reasonable  period until 2017 to have the phase down in place.  Friends of the Earth would prefer an earlier target date.

But make no mistake, an announcement like this sets up a target for those who profit from the sale of neonicotinoids, the most widely used group of pesticides globally. This is no time to be silent if you want to protect bees and wild pollinators, our soils and waters.  We need to work together vigorously to ensure Ontario’s plan emerges intact from their 60 day comment period.  Give us a call, send us a message if you’d like to work together to respond to this important pollinator protection plan.

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