By BEATRICE OLIVASTRI
Given your readership’s interest in food security as well as protecting bees and other important elements of biodiversity, I wanted to bring to your readers’ attention an important opportunity to provide their opinion to Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency.
Late last fall, after an environmental assessment found dangerous levels of imidacloprid contaminating the environment, PMRA proposed to phase out the main uses of this pesticide in three to five years. They announced a formal consultation period as required under their rules so that the public and all concerned could comment on the ban.
At the urging of the pesticide industry, the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food asked for an extension so it could submit a report. It then hosted two days of hearings inviting only pro-pesticide representatives to testify. Only after a cancellation occurred were environmental groups allowed one 10-minute slot to address the committee.
At a time when the current federal government says it is committed to open, transparent and democratic procedures, this hijacking of the PMRA consultation process is a cause for grave concern. And it underlines the importance of citizen participation in formal consultations — any and all opinions from a fast-click agreement to a hand-written letter of concern — is an important exercise in democracy and should be valued as such.
Canada’s PMRA re-evaluated imidacloprid last year and concluded its current use is “not sustainable” on the basis of risks to aquatic ecosystems. The environmental assessment found imidacloprid present in Canadian lakes and rivers at levels that are harmful to aquatic insects essential to the health of aquatic ecosystems. This assessment did not consider risks to pollinators, which the PMRA has been evaluating through a separate process with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since 2012.
While we are still expecting to hear results on how imidacloprid impacts managed and wild bees, we think it is critical that PMRA puts a stop to imidacloprid entering the environment. There is no scientific justification for allowing this pesticide to be sold unrestricted for another three to five years.
The European Union has a partial ban on three neonics, including imidacloprid, and France recently passed a law banning neonics altogether as of September 2018.
The PMRA will consult on the proposed phase-out of imidacloprid until March 23, 2017, and will issue a final decision later this year.
We hope many Canadians concerned about food security and a safe environment will go to the Friends of the Earth website and customize a letter to the PMRA calling for an immediate ban on the use of imidacloprid. One also can email directly to PMRA.firstname.lastname@example.org.
The writer is CEO of Friends of the Earth Canada.