CAAR is advocating on behalf of members on a proposed ban of two valuable neonic products.

On Aug. 15, Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) announced the proposed phase out of all outdoor use of two neonic products, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, in the next three to five years.

The announcement comes as part of the PMRA’s mandate to re-evaluate the safety of pest control products at least every 15 years, to ensure products continue to meet modern regulatory standards. The PMRA cited risk to aquatic vertebrae as the reason for the proposed bans.

Many stakeholders across the ag industry are concerned about the process behind these decisions and the potential impact on the industry if the bans are enacted.

In particular, without the use of these two products in a seed treatment application, Canadian canola growers will lose significant flea beetle control tools and may turn to options that are both less environmentally and economically sustainable.

Using the Best Information

In response to the proposed bans, CAAR has joined an industry coalition led by the Canada Grains Council (CGC), which will provide statements to regulators during the 90-day comment period for the proposed decisions.

Through the coalition, CAAR wants to verify that all scientific data and potential risks the bans pose to both farm profitability and the environment were considered by the PMRA during its re-evaluation process.

“The group is advocating for early engagement with the sector when risks are identified. Allowing stakeholders the time needed to address concerns and generate the necessary data is the only way the PMRA can make decisions based on the best possible science.” says Mitch Rezansoff, executive director of CAAR. “Rushing to snap decisions to meet artificial deadlines is resulting in overly conservative interpretations and the risk assessments are incomplete.”

Tyler Bjornson, president of the CGC, says the coalition has requested an opportunity for industry and government to have an in-depth discussion about the process behind the proposed decisions and the potential impact, and is hopeful the PMRA will agree to a multi-stakeholder forum.

“We want to have a very deep conversation about the science and the risk assessments related to these proposed decisions,” Bjornson says. “We really believe that the government is unnecessarily and prematurely proposing to take products off the market that may, in fact, have the best holistic environmental outcome.”

Estimating Environmental Impact

According to Bjornson, the industry is confident that, in a seed treatment application, clothianidin and thiamethoxam are the most environmentally friendly insecticide options available to producers. He says the industry is very concerned about environmental ramifications if producers are forced to increase the number of foliar insecticide applications in a season to compensate for their loss.

“We want to push the government to look at not only these chemistries, but also the alternatives. What happens if we take these chemistries away? What will farmers have to do in order to manage these pests? What are the potential environmental impacts of those alternatives?” says Bjornson.

The PMRA currently has no mandate to answer these questions when re-evaluating products. The coalition members view this lack of agronomic and economic foresight as a major flaw in the process and have formed a technical working group to address this concern.

Crafting A Consistent Message

The technical working group will provide input to the CGC as it takes the lead on developing common messages for all coalition stakeholders. Each group in the coalition is encouraged to use these common messages as a basis to prepare their own statements that enforce the industry’s position.

Achieving consistent messaging through collaboration with all associations and stakeholders is extremely valuable to lobbying efforts. Mitch Rezansoff

According to Rezansoff, this consistency of messaging is one important reason why CAAR is participating in the coalition.

“When retailers are updating farmers, we need to provide an industry position message so they’re able to provide farmers with consistent information,” says Rezansoff. “Achieving consistent messaging through collaboration with all associations and stakeholders is extremely valuable to lobbying efforts.”

When forming the coalition, the CGC knew that CAAR would be a crucial voice at the table to make sure the position of ag retailers was being considered.

“It’s very important to have the ag retail sector represented, through CAAR, to lend their expertise as part of the industry response,” says Bjornson. “As well, it’s important for retailers to be kept aware of the potential for really dramatic and significant changes to the tools that are available to their farmer customers.”

Through the coalition, CAAR will continue to ensure retailers are equipped with consistent, accurate and timely information, and that their best interests and their customers’ best interests are being heard by regulators.

“We want retailers to know that we are advocating and working to ensure the decisions made by regulators are for the right reasons, and not because of public pressure and misinformed lobbyists,” says Rezansoff. “We are working together to keep the most environmentally friendly solutions available to retailers and their customers.” 

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