A letter was sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today by 16 of Canada’s leading civil society organizations working toward environmental sustainability, urging swift action to end the use of harmful neonicotinoid (“neonic”) pesticides in Canada.

The letter follows the European Union’s decision to ban neonics by the end of 2018, as well as today’s release of an open letter signed by more than 200 scientists worldwide (published in Science) calling on governments around the world to ban neonics.

Neonics remain among the most widely used insecticides in Canada, even though a 2018 global research review of alternatives to neonicotinoids identified less toxic methods of pest control that are both affordable and effective.


Dear Prime Minister Trudeau:

On behalf of Canada’s leading civil society organizations working toward environmental sustainability, we are writing to urge your government to take immediate action to end the use of neonicotinoid insecticides in Canada in response to recent international developments and significant evidence of serious harm.

We draw your attention to the attached open letter signed by more than 200 scientists, published in the June 1, 2018, edition of the journal Science. The scientists write: “The balance of evidence strongly suggests that these chemicals are harming beneficial insects and contributing to the current massive loss of global biodiversity.” They call for immediate national and international action to greatly restrict the use of neonicotinoids and prevent registration of similarly harmful agrochemicals in the future.

We echo this call and ask for your leadership to resolve the inadequacies of Canada’s regulatory action on neonicotinoids to date.

Neonicotinoids are among the most widely used insecticides in this country. They are detected in surface-water samples across Canada, a concerning indication of pervasive environmental contamination. Scientists have also determined that neonicotinoids are persisting in the environment much longer than previously expected. Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is conducting several reviews of neonicotinoids and has so far proposed to phase out one of them, imidacloprid, but not until 2021 at the earliest. In December 2017, the PMRA proposed to continue registration of the other two common neonicotinoids, recommending restrictions only for some uses without addressing the major use of these chemicals as seed treatments.

In contrast, European Union member countries voted in April 2018 to ban all outdoor agricultural uses of neonicotinoids by the end of this year, after updated scientific assessments published by the European Food Safety Authority confirmed serious risks to bees. Canada must take similar decisive action to protect pollinators and other insects that are fundamental to our food security, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

It is widely acknowledged and supported by scientific evidence that neonicotinoids are not needed to sustain agricultural production. The PMRA estimates neonicotinoid seed treatments add just 3.2 to 3.6 per cent of the national farm gate value for corn, and 1.5 to 2.1 per cent for soybean. This calculation does not take into account adverse effects of neonicotinoids on species beneficial to agriculture. A 2018 global research review of alternatives to neonicotinoids identified less toxic methods of pest control that are affordable and effective.

With appropriate government support for farmers to assist with transition away from neonicotinoids, Canada can and should match the European timeline for ending neonicotinoid use. Continued delay in the face of strong evidence of serious harm to ecosystems and species threatens to undermine our collective efforts to preserve biodiversity in Canada.


Stephen Cornish, Chief Executive Officer, David Suzuki Foundation
Rick Bates, Executive Director and CEO, Canadian Wildlife Federation
Éric Chaurette, Program Manager, Inter Pares
Beth Clarke, Executive Director, Wilderness Committee
Jim Coneybeare, President, OBA
Silvia D’Amelio, Directrice générale, Trout Unlimited Canada
Tim Gray, Executive Director, Environmental Defence
Joanna Kerr, Executive Director, Greenpeace
Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director and Counsel, Canadian Environmental Law Association
Sidney Ribaux, Executive Director, Équiterre
Beatrice Olivastri, Chief Executive Officer, Friends of the Earth Canada
Devon Page, Executive Director, Ecojustice
Kim Perrotta, Executive Director, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
Graham Saul, Executive Director, Nature Canada
Meg Sears, Chair, Prevent Cancer Now
Martin Settle, Executive Director, USC Canada

For more information, please contact:

Brendan Glauser, David Suzuki Foundation, 604-356-8829, bglauser@davidsuzuki.org
Camille Gagné-Raynauld, Équiterre, 514 605-2000, cgraynauld@equiterre.org
Beatrice Olivastri, Friends of the Earth Canada, 613 724-8690, beatrice@foecanada.org
Charlotte Dawe, Wilderness Committee, 778-903-3992,  charlotte@wildernesscommittee.org
Phil Rowley, Trout Unlimited Canada, 780-464-5499, prowley@tucanada.org
Pam Logan, Canadian Wildlife Federation, 613-599-9594, Pamelal@cwf-fcf.org
Charles Hatt, Ecojustice, 647-783-1934,  chatt@ecojustice.ca
Dennis Edell, Ontario Beekeepers’ Association, 416-918-4448,  deesbeeshoney@gmail.com
Meg Sears, Prevent Cancer Now, 613 297-6042, Meg@PreventCancerNow.ca
Marie Moucarry, Greenpeace, 438-993-6127, marie.moucarry@greenpeace.org