Neonicotinoid phase-out reduces canola flea beetle control tools

Winnipeg – The phasing out of neonicotinoid seed treatments in Canada may cause problems for the country’s canola growers when dealing with flea beetles, but alternatives pesticides could fill the gap.

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) is proposing that two neonicotinoid pesticides, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, be phased out over the next three to five years. Following special reviews, the PMRA found that the pesticides are harmful to aquatic insects which are a major source of food for fish, birds and other animals.

The chemicals are widely used as seed treatments for the majority of canola grown in Western Canada. While the impact on bees is often mentioned in discussions on neonicotinoids, the PMRA itself came out with a decision in 2017 noting that the neonicotinoid seed treatments don’t negatively hurt pollinators, including bees.

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“These seed treatments are used on canola to prevent the young plants from being eaten by flea beetles,” said Brian Innes, vice president of public affairs with the Canola Council of Canada.

“We’re concerned about not having these products will have a significant impact on the canola industry,” said Innes adding “it will mean increased risks and reduced yields.”

It can be very hard to predict when the insect when flea beetles will strike a field and individual fields can be lost in as little as 36 hours, according to Innes. While foliar chemical applications are an option, the small window makes control difficult.

“If we remove the neonicotinoids, it forces people to use other alternatives,” said John Gavloski, extension entomologist with Manitoba Agriculture. He said there are trade-offs with other pesticides, making it hard to determine the eventual impact on crop production.

He said diamides were a group of chemicals that can also be used as a seed treatment against flea beetles. They are not as water soluble as neonicotinoids, which comes with its own pros and cons.

The lower water solubility of diamides means they are slower to react. However, with neonicotinoids, a rain right after planting can wash away much of the seed treatment, which would not be the case with diamides.

Gavloski said more chemical options were also being researched and should be available for the market soon.

While more tools could take the place of neonicotinoids, “we’re very concerned as a canola industry, because any tool that’s taken away from farmers has a negative impact on their ability to produce canola and manage their risk,” said Innes adding that small impact on yields could lead to hundreds of millions of dollars of losses in the bigger picture.

There is a 90-day window of comment on the PMRA decision, and Innes said the Canola Council will review the decision to make sure all of the available information was taken into account. “We as a canola industry very much value a science-based review process,” he said.

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  • Marc

    Boo hoo poor canola growers; suck it up. Lay off the toxins.

    • Eric Bjerregaard

      Typical heartless reaction of the guy who isn’t smart enough to realize other crops will be effected, his food prices will go up, and the alternatives may be more risky.

      • Marc

        Canola a food, really? It shouldn’t be; it’s one of the worst oils out there, besides mostly all genetically engineered which is crap too.

        I’m a farmer too, so know what’s up.

        • Eric Bjerregaard

          citations? Farmer? I doubt it. Your comments reflect too much ignorance.

          • Marc

            Health Canada has agreed that bee-killing imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin should be banned.

            BUT not for three to five years – that’s not a ban that’s a bailout for the pesticide industry, and farmers that buy into it.

            Other countries have bans in place.

            Another 3 to 5 years of their use here will surely continue to decimate pollinators and other insects and in turn reduce bird numbers dramatically, and continue to negatively affect the environment as whole, including us humans!

            You can’t expect to use powerful toxins and not have lethal effects other than the intended pests.

            FYI I have been farmed since 1971, and past 33 years as certified organic. I was an integral member of the group that sought a class action suit against Monsanto and Bayer on the transgenic/GM canola issue and to stop the introduction of GM wheat.

            No ignorance here, just reality and truth. You may be the one that is in denial.

        • Happy Farmer

          As a farmer you would surely be aware that ALL Canola oil is GM free. The meal leftover from processing contains the GMs. You would also be aware that using Cold Pressed and Non-refined techniques produce a oil that is healthier than olive oil. One more thing you surely know as well-neonics used as seed treatments are far less toxic than any other alternatives.
          But of course, you know this already because you are a farmer.

          • Marc

            You’re strumming the same old rhetoric that’s been around, trying to legitimize why genetically engineered crops are ok. Have you thought about where that canola meal ends up? In the food chain leading to us humans via the animals its fed to.

            Canola oil vs olive oil. Very little canola oil is cold pressed and non-refined. It typically undergoes extensive chemical processing, and is
            often done at high temperatures, including the addition of the hexane
            chemical. It is also deodorized and bleached, all of which can damage the nutrient content of the oil. No solvents are used to produce pure, classic, light or extra virgin olive oils.

            Olive oil of all grades contain antioxidants, which have powerful health benefits. Canola oil has no antioxidants.

            Because canola oil also contains cholesterol-balancing monounsaturated fat comparable to olive oil, the Canola Council of Canada attempted to link many of the benefits of olive-oil-rich Mediterranean-type diets to diets high in canola oil, even if canola oil has never been used in Mediterranean cuisine. The propaganda worked, and sales of canola oil went on the upswing.

            Canola oil is not a healthy oil. It is a marketing scam to
            profit the agro-chemical giants. Increasing scientific research is showing detrimental health effects by using canola oil. Of course you’ll find opposing research funded by agro-chemical corps to detract away from the negative and spin canola and canola oil as great stuff, and artificially keep the value up and offer farmers potentially very profitable returns.

            Neonics used as seed treatments were supposed to be less toxic than spraying insecticides, but they have been found to be very toxic themselves. Adding neonics to seed is like always adding antibiotics to prepared hog feed; the expectation is that there will be problems and so the toxins are there whether needed or not, and probably mostly not! If soil health is balanced, insect problems should not blow up so as to necessitate adding insecticides. And insecticides do not discriminate between the target pest and all the beneficial predatory and other insects; so continues to put ecology out of balance. An example of that is wheat midge. The predatory insects usually keep in them in check, but they get knocked off by the same insecticides meant to target the midge.


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