Pesticide regulation changes move ahead

Amendments will allow for less paperwork when using neonicotinoids

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Farmers trying to access corn and soybean seed treated with neonicotinoid insecticides still must submit evidence showing the technology is required on their farms.

However, the Ontario government says it has enacted regulatory amendments designed to reduce paperwork and redundancy in the application process.

Spokespeople from the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MOECP) say consultations on proposed administrative changes regarding neonicotinoid-treated seeds were held between Oct. 28 and Dec. 12, 2019. These now-finalized amendments were also proposed to better align the province with federal policy set by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA).

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Why it matters: Farmers and vendors looking to access neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed might find it easier under new provincial amendments.

Changes will come into effect using a phased approach. For instance, changes related to neonicotinoid-treated seeds came into effect immediately upon filing of the regulation on April 9.

Most other changes, including those related to pesticide classification, came into effect May 1.

Changes related to farmer training and vendor licencing will come into effect Jan. 1, 2021 to ensure sufficient time for transition.

After five years of these restrictions, say ministry sources, Ontario is adjusting administrative requirements for farmers and seed vendors to ensure the necessary information is still collected and retained, and appropriate farmer training is completed, while reducing duplication and paperwork where possible.

“Ontario will continue its use of pest assessment reports to ensure that farmers that are at risk of an infestation have access to these pesticides, and those not at risk do not,” said ministry representatives in an email on April 16.

Accessing neonicotinoid seed treatment

In practice, these amendments mean farmers looking to use neonicotinoid-treated seeds on a given farm are still required to complete a Pest Risk Assessment Report – or use a previously completed Pest Assessment Report. For the former, farmers will be able to assess pest risks by considering a farm property’s history of infestation, as well as other characteristics outlined in the Pest Risk Assessment Guide.

Those who previously completed a Pest Assessment Report will not be required to redo their assessment annually, as was previously the case.

New assessments are also not required if using neonicotinoid-treated seeds on additional fields within a farm property – so long as Pest Assessment Report for that property has already been completed. The necessity of keeping some records, such as frequency of neonicotinoid seed use, still apply.

Finally, farmers will no longer have to hire a professional pest advisor to complete pest assessment reports every three years. Integrated Pest Management certification is still required, but applicators will not be required to repeat certification.

The updated amendments related to requirements for neonicotinoid-treated seeds are now in effect. With the PMRA currently reviewing the historic federal approval of neonicotinoids, the MOECP indicates further amendments to provincial policy are possible.

About the author

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Matt McIntosh

Matt is a freelance writer based between Essex County and Chatham-Kent. He is interested in all things scientific, as well as rock n' roll, hunting and history. He also works with his parents on their sixth-generation family farm.

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