North America is Watching: Farmers Weigh in on Neonic Regulation Consultation Process

What’s the danger of building regulations on a “precautionary principle?” Is the Ontario government’s push to regulate neonicotinoids moving too quickly? That’s part of the discussion that Real Agriculture’s Bernard Tobin had with Paul Wettlaufer and Mark Wales, both of whom are farmers and directors with Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).

In the interview below Wettlaufer relates some of what was discussed at the London public meeting and what was learned during the process. He also shares, from the farmers perspective, the willingness of many to communicate in good faith on these proposed changes.

Wales weighs in on what he views as the danger of  regulating based on the “precautionary principle, where emotion over rides sound science and facts, and stresses the need for more reliable data and a continued focus on all factors impacting bee health. Wales says the regulatory process is going “too far, too fast.”

“We need to make sure that this is a very sound, verified process before we rush into it,” says Wales.

Part of Wales’ concern surrounds liability, as well. If crop advisors or seed salespeople and so on have to “approve” a farmer’s access to neonics, what happens if losses are incurred? Who’s liable if there are preventable crop losses? This is a key piece of the regulation yet to be answered at this point, Wales says.

Both venture that the rest of Canada and North America are watching closely as to what Ontario does with neonic access.

Related: Hear from the ministries of agriculture and environment regarding the London consultation meeting here.

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