Ontario is introducing legislation that will significantly reduce the allowable number of acres planted with corn and soybean seed treated with neonicotinoids – a pesticide thought to be toxic to bees. Over the past eight years, beekeepers in the province have experienced a serious loss of colonies, reaching a loss of 58% in 2013/14.
Neonicotinoids are nicotine-based pesticides that contain neurotoxins which are harmful to pollinators, do not readily break down in the soil, and can be delivered to lakes and rivers from fields though run-off.
Currently, 100% of the corn seeds planted, and 60% of the soybean seeds planted in Ontario are treated with neonicotinoids. Within two years the Ontario government is targeting an 80% reduction in these numbers.
In 2016, farmers will be allowed to use the treated seeds on 50% of their planted acreage, but will be required to prove a pest problem before being allowed to use any additional neonicotinoids. In the following 2017 season, farmers will be required to prove a pest problem prior to being allowed to use any neonicotinoids at all.
The Ontario government hopes that its measures will reduce the over-winter bee losses to approximately 15% - a level the local bee industry considers to be sustainable and acceptable.
Lynda Kiernan is Editor with HighQuest Group Media and of the Oilseed & Grain News. If you would like to submit a contribution for consideration, please contact Ms. Kiernan at email@example.com.