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press release

Environmental groups in court to challenge delay in phasing out neonic pesticide

December 5, 2019

Delay in neonic pesticide phase-out challenged in Federal Court

Toronto – Ecojustice, on behalf of the David Suzuki Foundation, Wilderness Committee, Friends of the Earth Canada and Équiterre, are in court today to defend pollinators and stop the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) from ignoring its regulatory duties.

These groups will argue that the PMRA is unlawfully and arbitrarily delaying necessary restrictions on the neonic pesticide Thiamethoxam despite knowing it harms pollinators and nature.

In April 2019 the PRMA concluded that restrictions on Thiamethoxam must be put in place to protect bees and other pollinators. At the same time, the PMRA decided to delay the implementation of those risk mitigation measures for two years. While the PMRA calls this a “phase-out”, the law does not provide any authority for this delay.

Thiamethoxam is a neonic which is used on a wide range of fruits, such as cherry trees and vegetables, such as corn and soybeans. The longer Thiamethoxam is allowed to build up in the environment, the greater a risk it poses to the pollinators, who are responsible for 90 per cent of our wild plants and one in three bites of food we eat. It has also been proven to be dangerous to aquatic invertebrates.

In Europe, EU member states approved a complete ban on outdoor agricultural uses of Thiamethoxam and other neonics in April 2018, which was fully implemented in less than eight months.

Sue Tan, Ecojustice lawyer said:

“Ecojustice argues that the PMRA should always err on the side of caution when it comes to making decisions about pesticides.  That is why restrictions on its use should be implemented now – not two years from now. Canadians must be able to count on regulators to take a precautionary approach and prioritize human health and the environment.”

Lisa Gue, Senior Researcher and Analyst, David Suzuki Foundation said:

“Seven years after initiating the review of risks to pollinators, Canada had yet to implement any new regulatory restrictions on neonics, despite the recognized risks to the environment. In contrast, the European Union banned all outdoor agricultural uses of neonics more than a year ago. There’s no excuse for continued foot-dragging in Canada.”

Charlotte Dawe, conservation and policy campaigner with the Wilderness Committee said:

“The writing is on the wall of the negative impacts of Thiamethoxam to pollinators. The PMRA’s mandate is to responsibly manage pest control products while preventing risks to the public and the environment. There is absolutely no reason they should be delaying this important phase out. Their duty is to protect the public and environment, not appease pesticide producers.”

Beatrice Olivastri, CEO, Friends of the Earth Canada said:

“We’re in court to defend pollinators and protest two additional years of ‘unacceptable risk’ which means two more years of dead and dying bees. Bees deserve our protection. When it comes to the use of toxic pesticides, Canadians must be able to count on regulators to act with precaution to protect bees as representatives of our environment as well as protecting human health.”

Nadine Bachand, pesticides expert at Équiterre said:

“While the testimonies before the parliamentary commission held in Quebec on pesticides questioned the federal supervisory process, one wonders who will benefit from this unnecessary delay.”