The Truth the Agrochemical Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know

Posted By: Friends of the Earth Canada Comments Off on The Truth the Agrochemical Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know
In 2013, the European Commission placed a two-year moratorium on the use of three neonicotinoid insecticides (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) after a growing body of scientific research demonstrated their potential to harm honeybees and wild bees. Given the importance of bees in the ecosystem and the food chain, the EU decided to follow a precautionary approach and ban the use of these pesticides for a two-year period.

Prior to the vote on the moratorium (during which fifteen countries voted in favour of the ban, eight against, and four abstained), the agrochemical industry voiced loud opposition. The pesticide lobby cried that the moratorium would result in a decline in crop yields, raised production and product costs, and claimed that hundreds of thousands of jobs across the EU would be put under stress if the ban moved forward.

The agrochemical industry wanted us to believe that farmers simply could not grow crops without the use of neonics.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 3.08.48 PMNow, in the second year the moratorium has been in place, we are seeing something very different happening in the EU. A report released this past December by the European Commission found that in 2014, farmers and producers experienced an “excellent season for grain maize with record yields.”  Grain maize yields were at least 25% above the five year average in Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria, and soft wheat and sunflower yields were also recorded well above the five year average.In Canada the battle to restrict neonics is now facing similar opposition and industry pushback. The agrochemical industry is claiming that the proposed 80% reduction of neonicotinoid use on coated corn and soy seeds in Ontario will devastate farmers.At the beginning of this month, we saw big-ag groups and agrochemical companies band together to publish an “Open letter to Ontarians” in a number of major newspapers, in an effort to promote false-truths about the benefits of neonicotinoids. We are not fooled by the claims being put forth by industry. They aim only to secure their hold on the marketplace and maintain their profits, while bee populations continue to decline in record numbers.The European example shows that the claims being put forth by the agrochemical industry are both irrational and unfounded. Research has shown that a neonicotinoid ban in the EU has had no negative affect on crop yields. Ontario is on the right track to protect bees by setting targets to reduce the use of neonics. Continuing the over-use of these pesticides puts pollinators at risk, as well as the vital ecosystem services they perform, which all agricultural operations depend upon.

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