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  • By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media

Ontario Grain Farmers Lose Court Battle Against Neonicotinoid Restriction

The Grain Farmers of Ontario has lost its court battle against government restrictions placed upon the use of neonicotinoids, a widely used class of pesticides that is used on everything from row crops to sod, and has been linked to the decline in bee populations in recent years.

Under the new rules, farmers are restricted to the use of neonicotinoid-treated soybean seeds to half a farm’s acreage in 2016, and totally eliminated for 2017, unless a farmer can prove significant need for the use of the pesticide.

In Ontario, nearly all canola and corn for grain, and about 60% of soybean seeds are treated with neonicotinoids before planting, however the government states that only 20% of crops actually need the protection. Indeed, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a study last year stating that neonics provide “negligible overall benefits” to soybean production. Farmers disagree, and claim that the restrictions will cause the widespread destruction of crops and will cost them millions of dollars.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice rejected these arguments put forward by the Grain Farmers of Ontario which represents 28,000 growers, that farmers had the right to use their land ‘as they see fit’.

“[A]ny claims of loss by the farmers is purely speculative at this stage. By contrast, there is a public interest aspect to ensuring the control of use of neonicotinoid-treated seeds to ensure that pollinators are not at risk,” wrote Judge Sunhail Akhtar, who heard the matter in September and issued his reasons on October 23.

Europe has already banned the three most commonly used neonicotinoids, which have been shown to cause pollinators to become more susceptible to viruses, starvation, and winterkill, and it is believed that this ruling will go far in clearing the path for a full ban on the pesticide across North America.

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