Reducing pesticide risk and use must be a priority to protect human health and biodiversity, say environmental groups

TORONTO | Traditional territories of several First Nations including the Williams Treaties First Nations, Huron-Wendat, the Anishnaabeg, Haudenosaunee, Chippewas and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation — Environmental groups welcome today’s announcement from the federal government stating its intention to end the cosmetic use of pesticides on federal lands and strengthen regulation of pesticides. The David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence, Wilderness Committee, Ecojustice, Friends of the Earth and Prevent Cancer Now say the changes announced today are a positive first step toward more robust regulation of pesticides.

However, the groups caution that legal changes, if adopted, will need to be properly implemented and adequately resourced in order to better protect human health and the environment from pesticide risks. Furthermore, additional action to reduce pesticide use and risk will be needed if Canada is to meet its commitments under the Convention on Biodiversity to reduce the risks from pesticides by half by 2030.

The federal government also indicated it will not immediately approve proposed increases to the amount of glyphosate permitted on imported foods. This is a temporary victory for environmental and health groups, which reiterate their call for the government to reject the proposed increases. The groups welcome further review of Canada’s flawed system for limiting pesticide residues on food. A comprehensive approach is needed to reduce — not increase — exposures to hazardous herbicides linked to cancer in humans, such as glyphosate.

Lisa Gue, David Suzuki Foundation, said:

“We’re encouraged the government is taking first steps toward reducing pesticide risks. Ending the cosmetic use of pesticides on federal lands will eliminate needless risks to human health and the environment, while the proposed changes to federal pesticide regulation would welcome improvements to the pesticide assessment process. Let’s hope this signals a new direction in Canada — one centred on protecting human health and the environment and prioritizing Canada’s international biodiversity commitments.”

Laura Bowman, Ecojustice lawyer, said:

“Canada urgently needs to reverse the trend of rapidly increasing pesticide use, and close regulatory loopholes that allow extremely dangerous products —banned in other countries —to continue to be heavily used even when there are no pest or weed outbreaks. Worker protections from pesticides in Canada continue to be well behind those in other countries.”

Ashley Wallis, Environmental Defence, said:

“Today’s announcement signals that the federal government is considering actions to reduce pesticide risk. If we are going to achieve significant pesticide risk reduction by 2030, which Canada committed to at COP15 in Montreal last December, we need urgent action and leadership from this government. It’s long past time to end the overuse of underregulated pest products.”

Charlotte Dawe, Wilderness Committee, said:

“The harm that pesticides cause not only to the environment and biodiversity but to human health are widely known. Banning the cosmetic use on federal land is a good step forward, but these toxic pesticides are still sprayed over non-federal land for logging and agricultural uses in this country, and that needs to stop too.”

Beatrice Olivastri, Friends of the Earth Canada, said:

“The Government of Canada manages some 41,240,072 hectares of land area. We are very happy to hear that cosmetic pesticides will be banned on this federal land from coast to coast to coast. We look forward to visiting federal buildings across Canada where pollinators will be able to flourish safe from bee-toxic neonicotinoids and glyphosate, to name just a few of the pesticides to be banned. This must be a start, not a finish, to banning harmful pesticides in Canada.

Meg Sears, Prevent Cancer Now, said:

“Turning the corner on biodiversity losses requires urgent reduction in pesticide products and their use. This is a great first step to inspire provinces and municipalities across the country. As well, a proposed regulatory change for meaningful access to and re-analysis of test data is welcomed by scientists who see major omissions in pesticides assessments.”

Ted Cheskey, Naturalist Director at Nature Canada, said:

“We applaud the Government of Canada’s intentions to end “cosmetic” use of pesticides on federal lands and strengthen pesticide regulations in general. Pesticides are considered one of the major drivers in the collapse of many bird, bat and other pollinator populations.  For example, aerial insectivorous birds such as the beloved swallows, have suffered catastrophic population declines closely linked to the pesticide-induced declines of the insect populations that they depend on. This announcement is one of many steps we need to take in Canada towards halting and reversing biodiversity loss. As it is also positive for human health, these reforms cannot happen too quickly.”

Silke Nebel, Birds Canada said:

“This announcement is an important step for Canada’s commitment to halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030. Cosmetic pesticides are one of many contributors to declines in insect populations, on which birds, bats and other animals depend. Hopefully this is not the end, but just the beginning of a drastic reduction of pesticides used all across Canada.”

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  • Canada has committed to reduce pesticide risk by 50 per cent by 2030, as a signatory to the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. The government must develop an implementation strategy to meet GBF targets by the end of this year.
  • Pesticide use in Canada has increased at an alarming rate over the past decade, by 30 per cent. Without new measures to reduce dependence on pesticides, biodiversity and health in Canada will continue to be put at serious risk by implementation failures and loopholes in the pesticide regulatory system.
  • In 2021, pesticide companies proposed an increase to the levels of glyphosate allowed on imported foods in Canada. Public outcry followed. Today the Canadian government announced that it would not immediately make a decision on that proposal. Mexico announced a ban on glyphosate, which will begin in 2024, a move that Canada continues to publicly oppose. Instead of putting this decision on pause, Canada should reject the proposed increase of the amount of glyphosate used on food, move swiftly to restrict or ban glyphosate use and join other trade partners, such as Mexico and Italy, in preventing excessive glyphosate use and unnecessary residues in our food.


Ecojustice uses the power of the law to defend nature, combat climate change, and fight for a healthy environment. Its strategic, public interest lawsuits and advocacy lead to precedent-setting court decisions and law and policy that deliver lasting solutions to Canada’s most urgent environmental problems. As Canada’s largest environmental law charity, Ecojustice operates offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax.

The David Suzuki Foundation ( | @DavidSuzukiFdn) is a leading Canadian environmental non-profit organization, founded in 1990. We operate in English and French, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. We collaborate with all people in Canada, including First Nations leadership and communities, governments, businesses and individuals to find solutions to create a sustainable Canada through scientific research, traditional ecological knowledge, communications and public engagement, and innovative policy and legal solutions. Our mission is to protect nature’s diversity and the well-being of all life, now and for the future.

Environmental Defence ( is a leading Canadian environmental advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

Friends of the Earth Canada ( is the Canadian member of Friends of the Earth
International, the world’s largest grassroots environmental network campaigning on today’s most urgent environmental and social issues

Prevent Cancer Now ( is Canada’s science-based organization working to stop cancer before it starts.

Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA) is a legal aid clinic dedicated to environmental equity, justice and health.

Birds Canada is dedicated to driving action to increase the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of all wild birds in Canada.