CropLife Canada responded to the Pest Management Regulatory Agency's (PMRA) request for public input on its Notice of Intent regarding bees and neonicotinoid pesticides. The national trade association supports the concrete steps PMRA has outlined for the 2014 planting season, but has underscored the importance of finding science-based solutions rather than capitulating to pressure created by activist groups with known anti-farm agendas.
"Neonicotinoid pesticides help farmers protect their crops from insect attacks at the vulnerable seed and seedling stages," said Pierre Petelle, vice president of chemistry at CropLife Canada. "Coating the seed means less pesticide is used and beneficial insects like bees are less much less likely to come into contact with the insecticide."
The CropLife Canada submission, which is available for review at www.croplife.ca, builds on the industry's ongoing commitment to work collaboratively to find ways of reducing unintended exposure to neonicotinoid dust. Other examples of the industry's actions include:
- Improved labeling of treated seeds
- Introduction of best management practices designed to help farmers reduce the amount of dust created during planting
- Development of a dust-reducing lubricant and commitment to work with agriculture partners to make sure that the new product is used in 2014 seeding operations
- Improved information-sharing with farmers and beekeepers
- Support for research initiatives, including a five-year national bee disease study
"We remain supportive of the efforts being undertaken to reduce unintended exposure of bees to neonicotinoids, but we are gravely concerned about the fact that the various other threats to bee health are being overlooked," Petelle said.
Also being overlooked are the many facts that paint a more detailed picture of the true state of bee health in Canada.
For example, bee health in Western Canada is strong despite the fact that there is approximately 20 million acres of canola planted every year, the majority of which has been treated with neonicotinoids. Additionally, honeybee colony numbers in both Ontario and Quebec have steadily increased since neonicotinoids were introduced approximately 10 years ago.
"Bee health is complex and there are several other factors can contribute to the kinds of unusual losses that a small number of beekeepers in very specific regions have experienced," Petelle said. "Getting to the bottom of this situation is of paramount importance, but we have to look for solutions that are rooted in science if we expect them to have a meaningful impact."