OTTAWA — Delaying regulatory decisions on neonicotinoid pesticides for another eight months or more is a dangerous misstep, the David Suzuki Foundation said, reacting to news from Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency. The PMRA update sets out revised timelines for the aquatic risk assessments of the three main neonicotinoid pesticides: imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. Final decisions were expected this month but have been delayed until fall.
“While the government procrastinates on bringing in measures to curtail the use of neonics, these harmful chemicals continue to contaminate the environment,” David Suzuki Foundation senior researcher and analyst Lisa Gue said. “The science is in: neonics harm beneficial insects and ecosystems. Why is Canada stalling on implementing a comprehensive ban, as other leading jurisdictions around the world have done?”
In 2016, the PMRA proposed to cancel most uses of imidacloprid after a routine re-evaluation identified the chemical in water samples at levels harmful to aquatic insects. Subsequent risk assessments of clothianidin and thiamethoxam reached the same conclusion in 2018. Yet, all three neonics continue to be used widely in Canada, pending final regulatory decisions.
“Decision-makers have turned the precautionary principle on its head, repeatedly delaying action to ban these chemicals while assessing new data,” Gue said. “There is ample scientific evidence that neonics represent a worldwide threat to biodiversity. We need timely and decisive regulatory action, not more foot-dragging.”
The precautionary principle dictates that the absence of scientific certainty should not be used as an excuse to delay action to protect the environment when there is the risk of serious or irreversible harm.
The European Union banned outdoor agricultural uses of neonics in 2019.
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The David Suzuki Foundation (davidsuzuki.org) is a leading Canadian environmental non-profit organization, collaborating with all people in Canada, including government and business, to conserve the environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through evidence-based research, public engagement and policy work. The Foundation operates in English and French, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.