Say no to weakening Ontario pesticide rules

Ontario wants to roll back regulations that protect us all

Ontario led the way in protecting pollinators from neonicotinoid insecticides (neonics) with North America’s first regulatory restrictions on the sale and use of corn and soybean seeds treated with the chemicals, introduced in 2015.

Now the Ontario government is proposing to water down its restrictions on neonics.

The government claims it is maintaining restrictions on neonics. Yet proposed changes to the Ontario Pesticides Regulation do away with important accountability mechanisms and invite overuse of these harmful pesticides:

  • Currently, an up-to-date assessment demonstrating the presence of relevant insect pests is required to purchase treated seeds under an exemption. The proposed changes remove the requirements for updating pest assessments and third party verification.
  • Guidelines for pest assessment will be relaxed, and neonic-treated seeds will be permitted even where no relevant insect pests have been identified in the soil.
  • Seed vendors will no longer be required to report on sales of treated seeds, and the government will no longer post annual seed sales data on its website.

Ontario is moving in the wrong direction. Hundreds of scientific studies point to evidence of harm from neonics, leading governments around the world to restrict their use. In 2018, the Province of Quebec introduced regulatory restrictions similar to those in Ontario, and the European Union banned outdoor agricultural use of the three main neonics altogether. Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency is proposing to phase out most uses of neonics, too, based in part on water-monitoring data from Ontario showing these chemicals are contaminating the environment at levels harmful to aquatic insects. The PMRA is expected to announce its final decision and implementation timeline in early 2020.

Why undo five years of progress to curtail the overuse of neonics in Ontario, when the case for banning them altogether is now stronger than ever?

Please write to your Ontario MPP and federal MP to let them know you support stronger — not weaker — regulation of neonics to protect biodiversity in Canada.