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ONTARIO ENVIRONMENTAL COMMISSIONER: NEONICS POSE GREATER THREAT TO ENVIRONMENT THAN DDT

Ontario’s Environmental Commissioner, Gord Miller, highlighted the dangers to pollinators from neonicotinoids (“neonics”) in his 2013-14 Annual Report. In Canada, these pesticides are being used widely and routinely on crops such as corn, canola and soybeans. Miller has stated that they pose a greater threat to the environment than DDT, which has been largely banned since it detrimental effects on wildlife were recognized in the 1970’s.

There is growing concern with the use of these products. A major review of 800 studies in the scientific literature by the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides concludes that “present-day levels of pollution with neonicotinoids and fipronil … are … likely to have a wide range of negative biological and ecological impacts”.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in a recent study of the usefulness of neonics, states “that these seed treatments provide negligible overall benefits to soybean production in most situations. Published data indicate that in most cases there is no difference in soybean yield when soybean seed was treated with neonicotinoids versus not receiving any insect control treatment.” Several recent scientific studies have implicated neonics in massive die-off of bee colonies, especially in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba.

Unfortunately studies to ensure the safety of neonics were not carried out prior to these substances being approved for use by Health Canada. Nor has the agency carried out such studies since then.

The Ontario government has recently proposed an 80% reduction in the acreage where neonics are used by 2017. 

It is critical that the federal government ban neonics and that provincial governments closely regulate their use until a federal ban is forthcoming.


UPDATE, APRIL 2015: EASAC REPORT DISCUSSES SEVERE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF NEONICOTINOIDS   

A new report by the European Academies' Scientific Advisory Council (EASAC), based on a detailed review of the literature with a focus on the many papers published since 2012, concludes that the current focus on the effect of neonicotinoids on honey bees is inadequate and the many other pollinators and other organisms are at risk. It states that: "There is an increasing body of evidence that the widespread prophylactic use of neonicotinoids has severe negative effects on non-target organisms that provide ecosystem services including pollination and natural pest control.". The report is available here.


Click here to send a message to the federal Minister of Health.

Click here to send a message to the Ontario Premier.



BELUGA POPULATION AT RISK IN THE ST. LAWRENCE FROM ENERGY EAST OIL TERMINAL PROPOSAL

The proposed Energy East pipeline would bring tar sands oil from Alberta to the east coast of Canada and thus avoid the pipeline routes to the U.S and the Canadian west coast which have become highly controversial as a result of environmental concerns. However, opposition is growing to this latest proposal as communities along the route begin to understand the implications of the project which would extend for 4400 km and utilize two coastal oil terminals, a new one to be constructed at Cacouna, Quebec on the St. Lawrence River, and an existing facility at St. John, New Brunswick.


The Cacouna shipping terminal is especially controversial, as it would be built in critical habitat of the beluga whale, a species that has come to symbolize Quebec’s conservation movement and has been listed as threatened in the St. Lawrence River since 2005. The facility would be just across the river from the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park. Attempts to carry out exploratory drilling at the proposed site have caused protests over the past months.

In early December, 2014, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), the scientific advisory body on species at risk in Canada, issued an assessment of the St. Lawrence beluga whale as endangered, the highest level possible. It cited numerous threats - toxic algal blooms, pollution, noise disturbance, and industrial developments – and called for protection of the species’ critical habitat.

It is clear that the proposed Cacouna terminal and its tanker traffic pose grave threats to this endangered species and its habitat and should not be allowed to proceed.

For more information on the Energy East and other tar sands pipelines: Tar Sands Development & Pipelines


UPDATE, APRIL 2015: CACUNA TANKER TERMINAL PROPOSAL ABANDONED, PIPELINE START-UP DATE DELAYED A YEAR

TransCanada, the proponent of the Energy East pipeline, has announced that the proposal for a tanker terminal at Cacuna on the St. Lawrence River has been dropped because of the threat it poses to beluga whales. Alternative sites are being considered. In addition, the expected start-up date for the pipeline project has been delayed until 2020.


UPDATE, NOVEMBER 2015: PROPOSAL FOR MARINE TERMINAL ON ST. LAWRENCE ABANDONED

TransCanada, the proponent of the Energy East pipeline, has announced that it has scrapped plans to build a marine tanker terminal anywhere along the St. Lawrence River. However, grave concerns still persist concerning the possibility of pipeline spills affecting the river. The company still plans to construct a terminal at St. John, New Brunswick.