Bees, rejoice! Health Canada has proposed to ban the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, including one specific insecticide called imidacloprid that is widely used throughout Canada and has been attributed as having caused widespread death amongst bees.
What are neonicotinoid pesticides?
Neonicotinoid pesticides are the most widely used pesticides in the world and have been the subject of many studies in the past. In fact, Europe voted to do a test ban of two years back in 2013. It was lifted two years later with an emergency application by Britain to conserve its oilseed rape crop. However, a further verdict of their test ban is due in January of 2017.
Neonicotinoids exhibit a wide spectrum of uses, from general pest control, to agricultural crops, to cereals, grains, pulses, and even Christmas trees. The biggest concern draws from heavy usages of these pesticides in agricultural regions, as the levels were deemed to be “well above concentrations that may result in toxic effects to insects.”[i]
Why ban them?
While neonicotinoid may work well in eliminating pests, it is also harmful to beneficial insects. As these pesticides leach from the soil into foliage, rivers, and streams, more insects that are crucial to the ecosystem become affected. This is bad news for bees especially, where colonies in North America and Europe have seen dramatic declines. Other insects–such as mayflies and midges–that serve as the main food source for many birds and marine creatures are also affected.
Health Canada’s Ban Proposals
Health Canada is moving forward with this proposal based on proven studies of the ramifications of neonicotinoid pesticides, as well as the positive effects of the limited use of these pesticides in Ontario, where in 2014, stricter regulations saw an 80% decrease in bee death incidents. Both Montreal and Vancouver have also already banned the use of neonicotinoid pesticides as a city health bylaw.
The proposed ban consists of two options. The first one is a three-year phase-out plan of imidacloprid. The second option is a five-year phase-out plan for those who can’t find alternatives to pest control.
Both phase-out plans apply to uses for outdoor agriculture, greenhouse, trees, and commercial seed treatment. But they do not apply to pesticides used around homes and buildings, direct injection into trees, or tick treatment in pets.
The ban proposal is not finalized, however, and is open to the public and industry stakeholders for 90 days—until the end of February.
What can we do to help the bees?
It’s indisputable that bees and many pollinators are severely affected by this insecticide, which is why it’s important to take a stance in supporting the ban. You can voice your opinion and send any comments before a final decision is made. For ninety days starting from November 23rd, 2016, Pest Management Regulatory Agency will consider any additional data and information submitted in making a final re-evaluation.
We’re excited to see where this proposal heads, and whether it or not it will follow through. Protecting and valuing our environment and its ecosystem should be a priority. We all know what our world would be like without bees and pollinators. There wouldn’t be many flowers or plants left. This is not only a win for bees but also a win for us.