Pollinators remain at risk

OTTAWA — The federal pesticide regulator’s conclusion today that risks to bees from most uses of the neonicotinoid (“neonic”) insecticide imidacloprid are acceptable is not supported by evidence, according to Équiterre and the David Suzuki Foundation.

Canada’s pollinator risk assessment is at odds with the findings of a large body of scientific evidence pointing to harm to pollinators from neonics, including the most systematic scientific review of more than 1,100 peer-reviewed studies and data from pesticide manufacturers. The European Food Safety Authority also confirmed risks to bees in a February update to its imidacloprid risk assessment.

European Union member countries voted to ban all outdoor agricultural uses of neonics, including imidacloprid, by the end of 2018. Environmental advocates say parallel comprehensive action is needed in Canada to protect pollinators, ecosystems and food security.

“Canada should fast-track comprehensive action to end use of neonics, as European countries have done. These chemicals threaten biodiversity, including pollinators essential to food security,” David Suzuki Foundation senior researcher and analyst Lisa Gue said.

Canada’s latest assessment recognizes risks to bees from certain foliar and soil uses of imidacloprid but glosses over risks from use of imidacloprid seed treatments. Seed treatments are the most widespread use of neonics in Canada, and have been identified as a major source of environmental contamination.

A separate November 2016 assessment identified unacceptable risks to aquatic insects. Canada’s pesticide regulator has already proposed to phase out imidacloprid, but not until 2021 at the earliest. The 2016 assessment did not consider risks to pollinators.

“The evidence points to an urgent need to stop the widespread use of neonics to protect biodiversity and pollinators. Less toxic alternatives to neonics are affordable, effective and already in use elsewhere. Continued delay is unjustifiable,” Équiterre’s project manager for pesticides and toxic substances Karen Ross said.

More than 60,000 Canadians have voiced support for a ban on neonics in Canada.

– 30 –

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