Prepared by Kim Perrotta, Executive Director, CAPE, January 2016
CAPE is moving its campaign on neonics – the pesticides linked to bee deaths – to the province of Quebec!
On November 22, 2015, the Quebec Minister of the Environment, David Heurtel, announced a bold new strategy for the regulation of pesticides in Quebec. He is proposing to update Quebec’s pesticide regulations which banned 20 chemical pesticides for use on lawns and gardens back in 2003. He is proposing to extend the list of banned pesticides to include 60 active ingredients.
Neonicotinoid pesticides or “neonics” are included in the list of pesticides to be banned. Neonics are pesticides that have been clearly linked to the death of bee colonies in Ontario and Quebec (1). These pesticides are harmful to birds, fish, and invertebrates such as worms, as well as bees. When the international Task Force on Systemic Pesticides examined over 800 scientific articles on neonics, it concluded that they are threatening “ecosystem services such as pollination that are vital to food security and sustainable development” (2).
Building on the regulatory action taken by Ontario on neonics in 2015, the Quebec Pesticides Strategy 2015-2018 proposes to ban the use of neonics for agricultural purposes except when it has been demonstrated as necessary by an agronomist. While the Ontario Regulations seek to reduce the number of acres of corn and soya that use neonic-treated seeds, the Quebec Strategy proposes to reduce the “risk to public health, pollinators and the environment by reducing the use of the most dangerous pesticides on all crops” (3). This means that Quebec plans to ban the use of neonic-treated corn and soya seeds, and higher risk pesticides such as atrazine and chlorpyrifos, on all crops, except when an agronomist determines that the pesticides are needed.
Atrazine has been identified by some as an endocrine disruptor that can adversely affect sexual differentiation, produce mammary and prostate cancer, and adversely affect the neural and immune systems (4). If Quebec successfully bans atrazine, which is used extensively on corn crops, it would be the first jurisdiction in North America to do so (5).
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has found chlorpyrifos to be acutely toxic to a wide range of organisms including mammals, birds, fish, aquatic invertebrates and honeybees, but has been in the process of re-evaluating it since 1999 (6). Chlorpyrifos has also been identified as a developmental neurotoxicant that can cause brain damage to children with exposure to very low doses during critical windows during pregnancy and early postnatal life (7).
So, in 2016, CAPE will be working with Équiterre in Quebec and other partners to: educate the public about the health and environmental impacts associated with neonics, atrazine and chlorpyrifos; support the banning of these high risk agricultural pesticides in Quebec; and advocate for regulations that create healthy crops, healthy bees, and healthy people.
- Health Canada. 2014. Update on Neonicotinoid Pesticides and Bee Health.
- Van Lexmond MB et al. Worldwide intregrated assessment of systemic pesticides – Global collapse of the entomofauna: exploring the role of systemic insecticides. Journal of Environmental Science and Pollution Research 22:1-4 & http://www.tfsp.info/worldwide-integrated-assessment/
- Province of Quebec. 2015. Quebec Pesticide Strategy 2015-2018.
- Louise Henault-Ethier. 2013. Defining Ecotoxicity of Pesticides: Key Concepts, Hot Topics and Current Controversies over Atrazine and Glyphosate.
- Équiterre, Nadine Bachand, Chargée de projet – Choix collectifs, agriculture et pesticides.
- Federal Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. 2015. Pesticide Safety.
- Jennifer Sass, Ph.D. & Robin M. Whyatt. 2016. Comments to EPA from Environmental Health Scientists and Healthcare Professionals In support of EPA’s Proposal to Revoke Chlorpyrifos Food Residue Tolerances Docket ID EPA-HQ-OPP-2015-0653.