Jump to Content
press release

Statement: Court declines to hear merits of neonicotinoid pesticide case

April 11, 2019

TORONTO, 11 April 2019 – Environmental groups expressed their disappointment at the Federal Court’s April 5, 2019 decision to dismiss a case challenging a decades-long history of conditional registrations of Thiamethoxam neonicotinoid pesticides by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA).

These products are toxic to bees and other pollinators, and concern over the PMRA’s lax oversight led Ecojustice to file a suit in 2016 on behalf of the David Suzuki Foundation, Friends of the Earth Canada, Ontario Nature and the Wilderness Committee.

The decision to dismiss the case was made on mootness grounds, related to the timing of the case.  The Court declined to decide the merits of the case.

Charles Hatt, Ecojustice lawyer for the David Suzuki Foundation, Friends of the Earth Canada, Ontario Nature and the Wilderness Committee, made the following statement:

“After such lengthy litigation, it’s disappointing that the Court did not address the PMRA’s unlawful practice of registering pesticides without being reasonably certain that their risks are acceptable, as the law requires.

“Our clients brought this case because they felt the PMRA had failed to live up to its responsibility as a regulator. For more than a decade, the Minister of Health has conditionally registered Thiamethoxam pesticides, while the PMRA’s own scientists acknowledged that they lacked the science to accurately assess the risks posed to pollinators and the environment by these products.

“Because the Court declined to decide on the merits of our case, the Court did not make findings as to whether the PMRA is fundamentally undermining the precautionary nature of the Pest Control Products Act by registering possibly harmful products without understanding their impact on ecosystems.”

Since 2016, when Ecojustice filed the case, the PMRA repealed the conditional registrations regulation and conducted more research on pesticide impacts on pollinators. Some of that research has led the PMRA to conclude that some uses of Thiamethoxam neonicotinoid pesticides pose unacceptable risks to pollinators.  As of April 11, 2019 the products are no longer conditionally registered and there is a planned phase-out of some uses.

The clients are reviewing their options for appeal with Ecojustice.