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Health Canada still on track for phasing out imidacloprid

Health Canada still on track for phasing out imidacloprid
−− A final decision is expected by December after a summer consultation

Cereal, speciality crop and fruit and vegetable growers are gearing up for a final attempt to convince Health Canada that eliminating most agricultural uses of the neonic insecticide imidacloprid is an environmental step backward.

The department said May 31 that an updated pollinator assessment by the Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency found that while the risks to human health are acceptable, the insecticide poses environmental threats to aquatic insects and pollinators.

The department plans consultations on these findings ending Aug. 29 before making its final decision in December 2018 to phase out agriculture and most other outdoor uses of imidacloprid over three to five years, starting in 2019.

The decision came despite the department’s acknowledgment that “There has been a 70 per cent to 92 per cent decrease in reported bee deaths or other adverse effects since Health Canada implemented previous actions to protect bees from the dust from the planting of corn and soybean seeds treated with neonicotinoids.”

Imidacloprid is a seed treatment that is used on cereals and crops such as peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas. There are also foliar and soil applications that occur in horticultural crops.

• Read more: EU nations back ban on all outdoor neonic use

Among the uses to be phased out are foliar application on orchard fruit, some tree nuts, and most small fruit and berries, soil uses on berries, some ornamentals and herbs, and outdoor-grown fruiting vegetables, cucurbits, and legumes. There will be changes to the timing of foliar application on some tree nuts, strawberries, grapes, fruiting vegetables, legumes, potatoes, peanuts, tobacco, hops, and some herbs and additional protective label instructions for cereal and legume seed treatment uses.

The department is still conducting re-evaluations on two other neonics — clothianidin, and thiamethoxam. Thus far, these two products do not pose risks to pollinators and their use will continue on a restricted basis.

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