Canola groups welcome Health Canada decisions to maintain access to neonic seed treatments

The organizations representing Canadian canola growers and the canola industry are welcoming a pair of Health Canada decisions regarding two active ingredients found in seed treatments for canola and other crops.

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) released its final decisions following special reviews of the impact of clothianidin and thiamethoxam on aquatic insects on Wednesday (Read more on the decisions here).

The decisions include new restrictions for use in corn and soybeans, as well as prohibiting uses in multiple horticultural settings, but the PMRA did not introduce any changes specific to canola after finding the use of both pesticides as seed treatments in canola production does not pose an unacceptable risk to aquatic invertebrates.

“This is great news for canola farmers as it maintains our ability to protect the canola crop at its earliest stages of development,” says Mike Ammeter, chair of Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA), in a news release issued Wednesday. “Flea beetles can dramatically reduce stand viability if not controlled early and maintaining access to these products is important for the environmental and economic sustainability of the crop.”

Health Canada had proposed banning agricultural uses of both clothianidin and thiamethoxam in 2018. Both the Canadian Canola Growers Association and the Canola Council of Canada worked with farmers and other industry stakeholders to provide the PMRA with relevant data and research findings.

“We’re pleased that PMRA allowed time to consider all the relevant data to arrive at a decision based on the best science available,” says Curtis Rempel, vice-president of crop production and innovation at the Canola Council of Canada. “Our competitiveness as an agriculture sector relies on a regulatory system built on rigorous scientific analysis and evidence-based decision making.”

The CCGA provided three years’ worth of scientifically-robust field-based research to the PMRA, notes CCGA’s policy manager Mark Walker, adding “today’s decision is in line with the evidence we found.”

Meanwhile, CropLife Canada, which represents companies that sell seed and crop protection products, has a slightly more mixed reaction to the Health Canada decisions.

“While we are still reviewing the full details of the special review decisions, we are pleased that the PMRA has affirmed that in many cases these important tools can be used without posing unacceptable risks to aquatic invertebrates,” says Pierre Petelle, in a statement shared with RealAgriculture. “Unfortunately, in some cases – specifically in the horticulture sector – many important uses of these products will be restricted, and in some cases, removed entirely. This will leave some growers without commercially viable alternatives to protect their crops and may jeopardize the viability of certain types of production in Canada.”

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