Neonic Suspension Seen Reducing Canola Yields and Acres in the EU

It’s been over a year and a half since the European Commission restricted the use of neonicotinoid insecticides across the EU in an attempt to help bee populations, an approach that the Ontario government is in many ways emulating with its new neonic seed treatment regulations for corn and soybeans.

The impact the suspension has had on production of canola (or “oilseed rape,” as it’s known in Europe) since taking effect on December 1st, 2013 was the topic of a presentation shared by Michael Schade, technical manager of global seedcare with Syngenta, in Saskatoon this week. (Syngenta is a major producer of seed treatments containing neonics.) Schade, who works at Syngenta’s headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, was one of more than 900 canola and rapeseed industry representatives from around the world visiting Saskatchewan for the 14th International Rapeseed Congress.

In the interview below, he explains how farmers have turned to pyrethroid foliar sprays to manage flea beetle populations in canola fields.

“The impact on yield is difficult to assess because some farmers use so many pyrethroid sprays that they can kind of compensate for their losses, but there are estimates that we have about 10 percent less yield,” he said. “More importantly, the problem is that EU growers are moving to other crops. There is a serious decline of the oilseed rape growing area in the European Union.”

Related: Neonicotinoids in Europe: A Regulatory Update & Farmers’ Role in Product Stewardship

Most reports have referred to the suspension as a two-year ban, with the European Commission reviewing new scientific data on the issue starting in December of this year, but Schade says they don’t expect a decision until at least the third quarter of 2016. Citing little change in the status of bees, he says he’ll be “really surprised if there is no change” to the restrictions and that Syngenta is “confident that oilseed rape uses will be back on our labels in the European Union.”

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