Ecojustice Blog – Healthy communities, Nature Posted on March 27, 2014 (updated: February 17, 2015)

Update on Ecojustice’s work to protect bees, pollinators from harmful pesticide

Dr. Elaine MacDonaldScientist

We should protect vulnerable species from harm.

But that doesn’t always happen.

If you’re craving news about our work to protect bees and wild pollinators from a harmful pesticide, here’s an update.

Let’s travel back in time …
Six months ago, Ecojustice asked the federal health minister, Rona Ambrose, to strike a panel to review her decision to renew the registration of several clothianidin products.

Clothianidin is a neonicotinoid pesticide severely restricted in Europe and linked to massive honey bee die offs in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

We made the request on behalf of our clients, the David Suzuki Foundation, Équiterre and the Wilderness Committee, who have also asked the federal government to reconsider whether agricultural uses of clothianidin should be banned in Canada.

But the minister has ignored their requests.

Recently, we wrote the minister to ask about the delays.  Here are the highlights of that letter:

  • We requested that the health minister strike a panel without further delay to review the registration of clothianidin, a neonicotinoid pesticide.
  • We requested that panel because there’s mounting evidence of the impacts to bees and wild pollinators.
  • We emphasized that there are an absence of critical studies.

What’s our vision?
We want a healthy environment where the government protects bee populations, and wild pollinators, from this harmful pesticide.

Unfortunately, while the Canadian government recognizes that it lacks requisite information showing that clothianidin is safe for pollinators, Canada continues to keep this product on the market, which is contrary to the precautionary approach.

What’s the problem with neonicotinoid pesticides?
A growing level of scientific literature documents the adverse effects of neonicotinoids on foraging and homing behaviour of bees, as well as metabolic, immune and reproductive functions.

Approximately 90 per cent of all flowering plants require pollinators to survive. Honeybees are perhaps the best know pollinators, but wild, native pollinators play an essential role in plant reproduction and food production.

What did our original request to the minister include?
We objected to the repeated failure of the Pest Management Regulatory Agency, under Health Canada, to require the completion of critical studies on the routes of exposure and chronic toxicity of clothianidin to bees and wild pollinators.

In response to such an objection, the Minister of Health may strike a panel of experts to review the clothianidin registration decision.

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