On July 1, 2015, new regulatory requirements for the sale and use of neonicotinoid-treated seeds in Ontario will start to come into effect, to protect bird and bee health. Ontario wants to reduce the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed by 80 per cent by 2017 and to ensure that these seeds are used only when there is a demonstrated pest problem. Reducing neonicotinoid use in these two crops presents the greatest opportunity to decrease pollinator exposure to the neurotoxic insecticide.
Neonic pesticides are highly toxic to honey bees and other beneficial insects. In addition, neonicotinoid pesticides are persistent, meaning they do not break down quickly in soil. They are water soluble and have the potential to easily run off into local watercourses where they can potentially harm aquatic insects. Neonicotinoid insecticides also make plants potentially harmful to the beneficial insects feeding on them.
In Ontario, neonicotinoid-coated seeds have been widely used, in some cases, without evidence of pest problems. Close to 100 per cent of corn seed and 60 per cent of soybean seed sold in the province are treated with neonicotinoid insecticides. This will now have to change.
The new system:
- requires farmers to take training on integrated pest management;
- establishes methods that farmers can use to assess whether pest problems require the use of neonicotinoid-treated seeds
- sets out requirements for the sale and use of neonicotinoid-treated seeds, and
- tracks the sale of neonicotinoid-treated seeds.
From August 31, 2015 to August 30, 2016
For the 2016 planting season, farmers who want to buy and plant neonicotinoid-treated seeds on more than 50 per cent of their corn or soybean crop, will need to complete a pest assessment report and provide it to the sales representative or seed vendor from which they purchased the seeds.
Starting August 31, 2016
For the 2017 planting season, farmers who want to buy and use any amount of neonicotinoid-treated seeds will be required to provide:
- Proof of certification of integrated pest management training
- A written declaration that integrated pest management principles were considered, and
- A pest assessment report.
Ontario beekeepers strongly support the new regulations, as do many environmental organizations. Many grain farmers have been opposed.