Your reading list

No imidacloprid decision expected till next year

Health Canada proposed last November to ban imidacloprid, an insecticide applied to fruit, vegetables, potatoes and many other crops across the country.

Twelve months have passed since the announcement, but Canadian farmers who use the insecticide will have to wait another year to know if it’s banned or not.

“Health Canada is reviewing an extensive amount of data and information, including recently submitted water monitoring data,” a Health Canada spokesperson said.

“Once this information is reviewed, the proposed decisions will be subject to a public consultation period and final decisions are anticipated by December 2018.”

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency has proposed phasing out agricultural and outdoor uses imidacloprid over three to five years. The PMRA said the phase-out is necessary because the insecticide was accumulating in water near agricultural land.

The concentrations in water were reportedly putting aquatic insects at risk and threatening animals that rely on those insects for food.

The mode of action of imidacloprid is similar to two other neonicotindoids, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. Those products are used as a seed treatment on nearly every canola and corn crop grown in North America and a portion of the soy crop.

PMRA scientists are also reviewing those insecticides to determine if they threaten aquatic life.

A number of agricultural groups have said banning imidacloprid is an extreme response because other policies could limit the use of the insecticide and reduce the threat to aquatic insects.

Many growers depend on the Bayer product for insect control. Fruit, vegetable and potato producers are the main users of imidacloprid, but prairie growers use it on wheat crops to control wireworm.

The PMRA is going slow with its decision on imidacloprid, which gives scientists time to publish new research on the insecticide.

In November, toxicologists at the University of Saskatchewan released a paper on imidacloprid and songbirds in Scientific Reports.

The scientists fed canola seed coated with imidacloprid to white-crowned sparrows. They observed detrimental effects in birds that consumed only four canola seeds.

“These chemicals are having a strong impact on songbirds,” said Margaret Eng, a post-doctoral researcher who led the U of S study.

“We are seeing significant weight loss and the birds’ migratory orientation being significantly altered.”

The toxicologists said exposure to imidacloprid could compromise the health of songbirds and their ability to reproduce.

A spokesperson for Bayer said the study is misleading because it doesn’t represent real world conditions for white-crowned sparrows.

“The repellent properties of the (insecticide) seed treatment would normally deter birds from ingesting whole canola seeds treated with imidacloprid,” said Paul Thiel, vice-president of product development and regulatory science for the crop science division of Bayer in Canada.

“Previous studies of caged birds indicated a lack of interest in imidacloprid treated seed if other food sources were available.”

Thiel said imidacloprid is rarely used as a seed treatment for canola, reducing the chance of birds eating such seeds.

A Health Canada spokesperson said PMRA scientists are considering the U of S study.

“It is too early to tell what impact it may have on the final decision.”


About the author


  • Denise

    The sooner this poison is out of the environment the better. Farmers don’t have to wait for government to get its act together.

    • FarmersSon63

      Why do you prefer that farmers use OP insecticides instead?
      Which are over 50 times more toxic?
      Use your head for once.

      • Denise

        Hey, I’m just relaying the research that is out there! What you want is akin to the expression: “The operation was a success but the patient died”. Chemical dependency is hard to overcome.

        • richard

          ….or don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger!….. You know in addiction counselling you need to get past the rote anger, denial, projection, victimization and personal attacks….. until the subject finally takes ownership……In my forty years of practice the ONLY farms that routinely suffer pestilence and disease are the ones that employ the most resistance…….thereby forfeiting the resilience of the complex ecosystem…… Its kinda like…..why be dumb, depressed and agitated when you can be happy, smart and tranquil?….keep up the good work counsellor….

      • Denise

        Hmmm….I’m using my head to look for better alternatives. Obviously neonics are not the answer.

        • FarmersSon63

          Your fears can be put to rest.

          Noenic use has increased dramatically, yet bee colonies have been increasing. So there is no correlation backing your guess.

          • Denise

            Biased sources don’t count. It’s what they don’t tell you have to worry about and find out the rest of the story somewhere else. Mainstream sources are not reliable sources. Washington Post is in the same league as CNN.

          • FarmersSon63

            You missed the part on the graph that said “USDA Honey Production Surveys”.
            So now you want to claim that the USDA is not a reliable source?

          • Denise

            Cherry picking a graph, in an article, doesn’t tell the whole story. Post the whole article,which, by the way, has a misleading title, and let the readers decide. Readers don’t forget to read the comments that follow the article. The truth will set you free and,hopefully, there is time left to save our wild pollinators from extinction.

          • FarmersSon63

            Yep, actual data from the USDA is what I choose to believe in….not your opinions based on zero facts.

          • Harold

            Has the USDA ever been wrong; that is your answer.

          • FarmersSon63

            So we should believe your opinion based on no facts over the USDA?

          • Harold

            No. believe your own opinion when you have discovered the facts. Has the USDA ever been wrong? Do those answers have anything to do with me? I am not the object of your concern and by pointing at me, you are telling me that you don’t know.

  • Denise

    Will the farmers take the lead on this? I hope so before it’s too late.
    “Strongest evidence yet that neonicotinoids are killing bees.” -New Scientist

  • FarmersSon63

    I told you and showed you what the USDA data confirms.
    You stated an opinion based on zero proof or facts.


Stories from our other publications