By Roy L Hales
It has been five years since the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides announced neonicotinoids cause “significant damage and pose a serious risk of harm to a wide range of beneficial invertebrate species in soil, vegetation, aquatic and marine habitats and are affecting ecosystem services as a result..” The European Union responded to public concerns by imposing a ban on three neonicotinoids in 2013. Now Health Canada proposes phasing-out a neonictinoid pesticide and conducting special reviews for two others.
Health Canada Proposes Phasing-Out A Neonictinoid Pesticide
According to their press release:
“Health Canada has now completed its re-evaluation of the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, and has published its draft risk assessment for public comment. The assessment proposes that current use of imidacloprid is not sustainable, and the levels of this pesticide that are being found in waterways and aquatic environments are harmful to aquatic insects, such as mayflies and midges, which are important food sources for fish, birds and other animals.
“To address the risks identified, Health Canada has also published a proposed risk management plan for public comment, which includes a proposed three-year phase-out of agricultural uses of imidacloprid in order to address risks to aquatic insects. In some cases, where there are no alternative pest control products available, a longer phase-out transition period of five years is being proposed.”
Special Reviews For Clothianidin & Thiamethoxam
Health Canada has also finally launched special reviews of two other widely used neonicotinoids, clothianidin and thiamethoxam.
It has been more than a year since four environmental groups1 launched a joint suit against Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) for ignoring the risks associated to these two chemicals.
At that time Ecojustice lawyer Charles Hatt, who represented the groups, said, “The PMRA has taken a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil approach by repeatedly registering these neonicotinoid pesticides without important scientific information on their risks to pollinators.”
After this new announcement, Hatt responded, “The PMRA is finally beginning to acknowledge the grave environmental risks posed by widespread use of neonicotinoids in Canada. The science shows that neonicotinoids are now found throughout our environment, posing risks not only to pollinators, but also to aquatic invertebrates and the fish, birds, and other animals that rely on them as a food source. We urge the PMRA to uphold the standards in the Pest Control Products Act and ensure that no harm comes to Canadians, our environment, or future generations from the use of neonicotinoid pesticides.”
A Serious Risk Of Harm, Especially To Bees
According to the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides, we do not yet know how strongly neonicotinoids impact vertebrate species such as birds.
They do “pose a serious risk of harm to a wide range of beneficial invertebrate species in soil, vegetation, aquatic and marine habitats and are affecting ecosystem services as a result.”
Neonicotinoids also pose a “serious risk of harm to honey bees and other pollinators.”
“In bees, field-realistic concentrations adversely affect individual navigation, learning, food collection, longevity, resistance to disease and fecundity. For bumblebees, irrefutable colony-level effects have been found, with exposed colonies growing more slowly and producing significantly fewer queens. Field studies with free-flying bee colonies have proved difficult to perform, because control colonies invariably become contaminated with neonicotinoids, a clear demonstration of their pervasive presence in the environment.”
Top Photo Credit: Dream of a bee’s flight…. by Jannes Pockele via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)