‘Risks are acceptable’: On verge of banning neonicotinoid imidacloprid, Canada reverses course, says bees will not be adversely impacted

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Canada’s pesticide regulator said on [May 18] that farmers could keep using the chemical imidacloprid to control crop-destroying insects under stricter conditions, softening an earlier proposal to ban it.

The chemical, made by Germany’s Bayer AG, is part of the neonicotinoid class of pesticides that farmers have sprayed on crops since the 1990s. Farmers use imidacloprid to protect fruits and vegetables from aphids and beetles.

Environmental groups, who criticized the ruling, say neonics harm beneficial aquatic insects when the chemicals accumulate in ponds and rivers. Those bugs are food for birds and fish.

The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) proposed in 2016 phasing out imidacloprid due to those risks, before extending a feedback period.

But in a statement with its final ruling, the agency said that such risks are acceptable within certain limits, after considering new water-monitoring data.

PMRA said in March it would also limit use of two other crop chemicals, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, linked to the deaths of aquatic insects.

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The European Commission banned outdoor use of all three neonicotinoids in 2018 to protect honeybees, although some countries have granted emergency authorizations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing the chemicals’ use.

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