Our coverage of chemicals worthwhile

Discerning readers will notice that we’ve been writing a lot about farmers’ use of chemicals lately.

There are four stories in this week’s Western Producer: one about the low thresholds used by Health Canada for neonicotinoids, one detailing how beekeepers in Western Canada are worried that a ban on neonics will result in farmers using more foliar sprays that may be damaging to hives, and we have stories about the Ontario and European Union experiences with restrictions on neonics.

This week’s editorial highlights the use of the courts by activist groups to target chemicals in the wake of a US$289 million award linked to glyphosate.

Recently, we also published a column by reporter Robert Arnason pointing out that the same kind of market signals that forced farmers to end the use of ractopamine as a feed additive despite science that shows it’s safe might now be affecting glyphosate.

Arnason also wrote a piece highlighting the gap between public perception of neonics and the opinion of many in the agriculture sector.

Our lead story last week on the proposed ban of two more neonics (clothianidin and thiamethoxam), which was headlined simply, “Now what?” carried a list of foliar sprays used as alternatives and their effects. Health Canada rendered the same proposed ban on imidacloprid last year.

We also published a piece highlighting how public pressure plays a part on a proposal to ban neonics.

And last week we printed an editorial that argued a blanket ban on neonics for field crops in Western Canada isn’t supported by science when the problem is closer to greenhouses and fruit and vegetable operations.

We do this for good reason: we cover developing news of interest to farmers, but it’s important that our readers see what’s going on out there and start to make decisions based on that information.

Neonicotionids will be gone, foliar sprays will be increased. Will food safety or the environment be any better for it?

Glyphosate is next. Are farm groups prepared to unite in proactively backing the science, or are they prepared to wait and see the neonics example played out again?

We try to arm readers with information. Now what?

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