The Commissioner on Environment and Sustainable Development audit results confirm that Canada must replace the PMRA

Friends of the Earth Canada says no trust left for PMRA

(January 26, 2016 – Ottawa) Canada’s Commissioner on Environment and Sustainable Development, Julie Gelfand, delivered a stinging audit of five key areas of performance for the Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency. PMRA’s primary objective is to prevent unacceptable risks to people and the environment from the use of pesticides.

“Canada needs a systematic approach to assessing pesticides that is open, transparent and independent of industry,” says John Bennett, Senior Policy Advisor, Friends of the Earth Canada.  “The audit findings confirm our worst fear that PMRA delivers on industry interests and not those of people and the environment.”

In every area examined by the Commissioner, PMRA has failed to live up to the mandate of the Pest Control Product Act to protect human health and the environment.

“Based on these audit findings, we cannot trust PMRA to protect children and adults, bees and other pollinators let alone the environment broadly,” says Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, Friends of the Earth Canada. “Clearly, the new government must act swiftly to put a new authority in place of PMRA. It must make sure the new agency has the money and scientists to do the real job to prevent unacceptable risks to people and the environment from the use of pesticides.”

Friends of the Earth comments on the five areas of PMRA performance audited:

  1. On the conditional registrations of pesticides – PMRA allowed conditionally registered products to stay on the market long after conditions were not met. Eight of nine products that have been conditionally registered for more than a decade are bee-harmful neonicotinoids. Of the 80 products conditionally registered at the time of the audit, 29 were conditionally registered for five years or more – 19 were neonicotinoid pesticides. Even though PMRA has announced its intention to halt future use of conditional registrations of pesticides, we need immediate action to pull all pesticides not complying with their conditions. And, this ban on conditional registrations needs to be made a permanent change by amending the act.
  1. On the re-evaluation of pesticides – The audit found that PMRA is not only slow but it did not assess the cumulative effects on human health when required by the Pest Control Products Act so that current science is missing in considering the impacts of pesticides on the market. So PMRA is not only slow, they’re negligent. Human health risk assessments of pesticide must include consideration of the combined or “aggregate” exposure from dietary, residential and drinking water sources.
  1. On the special reviews of pesticides – The audit shows that PMRA is reluctant to take on the required special reviews when new information about risks to human health and the environment emerge in the 15 year period between registration and re-evaluation. Canadians deserve to be protected with the most current science available whether its from home or international sources. Is the reluctance based on protecting current registered products or inadequate finances and scientists to take on the work? It’s clear we need a new agency with adequate resources to do the job needed to protect people and the environment.
  1. On cancellation of pesticide registrations – The audit shows that PMRA did not promptly cancel registrations of some pesticides when it determined that they posed unacceptable risk. In all but one case they took from 4 to 11 years to cancel the registrations citing lack of alternatives or, in some cases, allowing suppliers and users to exhaust their inventories. How can the public trust an agency that allows poisons to continue to be used just because they’re already on the shelf? This finding alone underscores the PMRA’s performance in supporting the pesticide industries’ interests rather than the public and the environment.
  1. On communication with the public – The audit found PMRA did not provide complete information on conditional registrations as required by its ACT nor did it effectively communicate new information on pesticides risks. Trying to find any information from PMRA has been like trekking through a black swamp. It’s time for transparency and two way communications.

Fall report, Office of the Auditor General of Canada, Report 1 Pesticide Safety




For more information, call

John Bennett, Senior Policy Advisor, Friends of the Earth Canada (613) 291 6888

Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, Friends of the Earth Canada (613) 724 8690


Friends of the Earth Canada ( is the Canadian member of Friends of the Earth International, the world’s largest grassroots environmental network campaigning on today’s most urgent environmental and social issues.

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