Pioneer offers neonicotinoid-free corn, soybean seed in Canada

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Pioneer, the world’s largest producer of hybrid seeds is offering a neonicotinoid-free option for corn and soybean seed — but only in Canada. Dave Harwood, technical services manager for Dupont Pioneer in Eastern Canada, said the move began with a request from the Grain Farmers of Ontario. They sent a letter to the Canadian Seed Trade Association asking for the choice.

Farmers will need to order ahead. The new option does include a fungicide treatment. With soybeans, farmers will pay less for their seed without the treatment, Harwood said. With corn seed, they’ll pay the same price.

Neonicotinoid seed treatments have been linked to bee deaths in Ontario and Quebec. A suspension on the products was announced in the European Union earlier this year. “The situation that has developed here has been an association made with these neonicotinoids … either acute injury to bees or, there has been speculation, there’s been more of a chronic effect. That’s the discussion,” Harwood said. “It is good press for production agriculture to bring that option.”

Asked whether the option would be offered in the U.S., Harwood said that neonicotinoid issue is “less visible” there. He announced his company’s intention at the annual field day near Chatham, next to its Eastern Canadian headquarters.

In response to questions from the group, Harwood said much of the issue is likely to be addressed through planter modifications and by switching to a new wax-based seed lubricant. Compared to talc, the wax-based seed lubricant reduces the level of neonicotinoid-laced dust being emitted from air planters by as much as 90 percent, he said.

Growers expressed a concern that yields will be negatively impacted if the seed treatments are banned. Harwood said a ban is possible and with the absence of insecticide seed treatments entirely, corn yields would likely be reduced. “We did a lot of yield testing of these products and in corn it would five bushels less without these products.” There are insecticide alternatives, although they may not have the broad spectrum of control as with neonicotinoids, he said.

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Vancouver, BC  |  September, 13, 2013 at 09:27 AM

While I am delighted that treatment free seed will be available, I would like some details filled in and discussed. First, corn yield may drop by 5 bushels, but 5 out of what amount of bushels expected? In the USA, corn yields have skyrocketed since 1960 from 54 bushels per acre to 152 bushels. Dropping 5 bushels is hardly financial ruin. And since soy yield impacts are not mentioned, I assume they will be negligible, and that makes me mad! Putting all the neonics in the soil and water for no reason! I would also like to point out that no matter what the seed lubricant, the neonics make their way into the water system. That kills bees, a wide range of beneficial insects and likely impacts wild bird populations at a minimum. No more neonics.

Mary Ellen Barbezat    
Elgin, IL  |  September, 13, 2013 at 02:34 PM


Stephanie C. Fox    
Bloomfield, Connecticut, U.S.A.  |  September, 13, 2013 at 04:59 PM

I posted this on a Facebook page that I run about human overpopulation pressuring the environment past capacity as the climate heats up and is otherwise trashed by our thoughtless species: "To this wonderful offer, many are still stupidly moaning that there will be 5 bushels less corn per acre instead of realizing that if they don't switch, they will kill the bees and soon have zero bushels per acre. Time to wake up - now, not when that actually happens!" The page is called: Nae-Nee - Birth Control: Infalllible, with Nanites and Convenience for All. It is about a dystopian science fiction novel that I wrote. Simply reading news like this article helped me imagine the story. Visitors welcome!

William & Katrina Dresbach    
OHIO  |  September, 13, 2013 at 08:45 PM

We need to let CONGRESS KNOW THIS! Jim Jordan says 'As you know GM crops are often Engineered to produce higher yields with less Labor Input and with a reduced need for pesticides. Crops thrive in less than ideal conditions continue to help combat hunger in the developing world. I do understand the concerns expressed by many consumer's about foods derived from these crops, while we cannot impede innovation and lifesaving research, people must be able to trust that the food they buy is safe to eat, the Dept of Agriculture and the Food and Drug administration are responsible for using sound Science to determine if certain foods pose a Risk to Public Health. ONCE CONSUMER'S are aware of the Benefits and Detriments of a food product they are free to decide what they choose to buy based on Quality and Affordability. Protecting our food supply is clearly a National Security Issue. I favor all Fact Based efforts that will these supplies safest in the world as Congress considers Food & Farm Policy Session. I will keep your thoughts in Mind. I HOPE THEY HAVEN'T TOOK A PAY OFF FROM MONSANTO! THEY ARE EVIL AND WISH TO KILL US ALL! HOPE CONGRESS EATS THIS CRAP!

illinois  |  September, 14, 2013 at 11:58 AM

Ohio, the problem with your post is, can you honestly trust anything the FDA or USDA says about anything? They are in the back pockets of every big agricultural company in the USA. They ignore any independent studies done on GMO'S. Instead they rely on the likes of Monsanto's short 90 day safety trials on GMO'S, that are no doubt twisted to fit into helping the GMO industry along. There are hundreds of independent studies that show GMO's are not safe for human consumption or the environment. Research it for yourself.

Ontario  |  September, 23, 2013 at 06:58 PM

go natural this stuff is ALL GARBAGE

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