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Ontario Cuts Corn and Soybean Acreage Treated with Neonicotinoids

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.

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