Subject: Pesticide pollution reason for proposed neonic phase out

Health Canada proposes phasing out “bee-killing” insecticide – but not to save pollinators
Imidacloprid excessively pollutes waterbodies impacted by golf courses, farms and turf
In an abrupt turn-around, on November 23, 2016 Health Canada announced plans to phase out an insecticide that gained both notoriety and bans in Europe, for killing bees. In Canada, imidacloprid runoff is polluting water.
“We are pleased that Canada will eventually catch up with Europe in banning this one neonicotinoid, though after decades of delays the adverse impacts from this persistent chemical are far from over,” said Dr. Meg Sears, Chair of Prevent Cancer Now. “We must shift to least-toxic alternative practices, and not merely substitute a look-alike chemical that is just as bad. Several similar insecticides on the Canadian market are under review.”
Imidacloprid was used for more than 20 years in Canada under a “temporary registration” based upon incomplete information. Critics included the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development.
In a teleconference, Health Canada’s Director, Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), Scott Kirby indicated that no single use of the chemical was at fault. Imidacloprid is broadly used as a seed coat, spray, soil drench and injectable product.
In a 300 page assessment, Health Canada compiled federal, provincial and US water monitoring data. Imidacloprid is routinely found in annual PEI groundwater surveys, and streams in agricultural areas are commonly polluted. The highest level of imidacloprid in surface water was found adjacent to a US golf course. Ontario prohibits neonicotinoids for “cosmetic” purposes, on lawns and gardens.
Waterbodies that were monitored can receive dozens of pesticides that kill or alter wildlife, including feminization of fish and amphibians. “This detailed look at one chemical is a welcome first step, that highlights the importance of more comprehensive study,” remarked Healthy Calgary's Robin McLeod.
The “toxic soup” evokes other pesticides and formulants, as well as what happens over time. As pesticides break down, they can transform into other toxic chemicals (for imidacloprid, one is worse than the original), and many imidacloprid breakdown products were not examined in the Health Canada report. Prevent Cancer Now has repeatedly called Health Canada’s attention to “environmental fate” information suggesting that the persistent, mobile, highly toxic 2CP (2-chloropyridine) arises from several neonicotinoids (e.g. see here and here). Sears concludes, “Chemicals that work in concert in the wild also team up to harm us. We've got to find better ways.”
Prevent Cancer Now is a Canadian national civil society organization including scientists, health professionals and citizens working to stop cancer before it starts, through research, education and advocacy to eliminate preventable causes of cancer.
For additional information, please contact:
Meg Sears, PhD
Chair and Science Advisor, Prevent Cancer Now
(613) 297-6042

P.O. Box 86058 Marda Loop, T2T 6B7, Calgary, Canada
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