CropLife Canada is disappointed by the Ontario government’s actions and believes that they are setting a dangerous precedent by allowing special interest groups with no knowledge of agriculture to drive public policy.

“While the government calls this an aspirational target, we call it a ban,” says Ted Menzies, president and CEO of the trade association. “There is absolutely no scientific evidence to justify this high-handed move. This will hurt family farms and small business in Ontario. The negative environmental and broader economic impacts will also be significant.”

While the beekeeping industry does face challenges, the most significant being the parasitic Varroa mite, the reality is that bee population numbers across Canada are at record high levels. Bee health is a complex issue impacted by a number of factors including nutrition, disease, habitat loss and beekeeping practices. Our industry supports efforts to improve pollinator health but laying this goal at the feet of agriculture when this is such a complex issue will do nothing to support the long-term protection of pollinators.

“It’s disappointing that the Ontario government intends to disadvantage Ontario farmers with burdensome, impractical regulations that will do nothing to protect bee health while hurting famers’ bottom line and hindering their ability to adopt the most sustainable farming practices,” says Menzies.

Without access to neonicotinoid seed treatments, farmers will be forced to abandon farming practices that have demonstrated significant environmental benefits such as improved soil health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“Putting critical farming decisions in the hands of downtown bureaucrats with no connection to agriculture is hugely disrespectful to the hardworking farmers who produce the food we all eat every day,” says Menzies.

Neonicotinoid seed treatments are among the safest insecticides ever developed. They provide seeds and young plants with protection from insects that destroy crops in the early stages. Because the insecticide is applied directly to the seed, the amount of product used is considerably less than what is used when farmers have to spray an entire field, plus, because the seed is planted into the ground, beneficial insects, such as bees, are less exposed to the product.

Focusing exclusively on pesticides in the bee health conversation, as the Government of Ontario has done, is shortsighted and overlooks the fact that other elements are at play. It also undermines the collaborative efforts of the majority of the agricultural community, which has been working together to come up with meaningful solution-focused approaches to protecting pollinator health.

“Ontario’s agricultural community has fought valiantly to have a reasoned discussion with the Government of Ontario. Unfortunately, this government seems to have little regard for the work Ontario farmers do to help sustainably feed an increasingly hungry world,” says Menzies.