VIDEO: MPP Barrett to Ontario Ag Minister- Why regulate a seed itself as a pesticide?

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QUEEN’S PARK – Who is standing up for farming at the Cabinet table?  Toby Barrett, Haldimand-Norfolk MPP and Opposition Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Critic, asked that question of Jeff Leal, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Leal dodged the question, instead charging back about supply management and risk management.

“The amended regulation 63/09 indicates that all treated corn and soybean seed is now registered as a class 12 pesticide, so it characterizes a treated seed as a pesticide and therefore regulate the seed, not the pesticide,” Barrett said in the Legislature. “It’s unacceptable. It’s unnecessary. It’s inappropriate. It will cause significant and irrevocable economic damage without any clear evidence with any off-setting benefits for pollinators. Yet another reason farmers realize your regulatory process is simply unworkable.

Barrett On Neonics Ontario Legislature

Barrett concluded by asking, “. . . why would you, as Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, regulate a seed itself as a pesticide?” In his first question during Question Period, Barrett maintained the new regulation on neonics questions the integrity of consulting agronomists, disqualifying those are associated with Ontario’s seed trade sector. Unsatisfied with the answers to both questions, Barrett was granted a follow-up debate during the evening seating.

Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015 Ontario Legislative Assembly Draft Hansard

Mr. Toby Barrett: To the Minister of Agriculture: 28,000 members of the Grain Farmers of Ontario have been forced by your government to go to court seeking an immediate stay to the regulation banning neonics. Peggy Brekveld, a Thunder Bay dairy and crop farmer, vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, charges that your regulations are unworkable, and I quote: “We will be required to have a certified crop adviser to inspect our fields. There are only about a hundred certified crop advisers who are qualified to do these inspections. Minister, your regs question the integrity of consulting agronomists, disqualifying those who work with the seed trade. Where are you going to find sufficient crop advisers who are not associated with Ontario’s seed trade sector?

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): The Minister of Agriculture.

Hon. Jeff Leal: Mr. Speaker, for you, I want to thank the member for his question this morning, from Haldimand–Norfolk. Clearly over the last little while, we’ve identified four key areas that have put stresses on pollinators in the province of Ontario. We’ve identified that over the last two winters, that have been extremely cold, which has an impact on our pollinators in Ontario. We do know that there are mites that invade beehives in the province of Ontario—the varroa mite. Thirdly, there is the management of hives in the province of Ontario, those hives that are professionally managed and those hives that are managed by hobbyists in that area. And, fourthly, we do know that the blanket use of neonic application in the province of Ontario is having an impact on the health of pollinators right across the province of Ontario. Just recently, Mr. Speaker, we’ve embarked along with our agriculture partners a general pollinator strategy for the province of Ontario. It’s the way to go forward.

The Speaker (Hon. Dave Levac): I just want to remind, as I’ve reminded others, that it’s two ??minutes here, ??.

Mr. Toby Barrett: Yes, Speaker. Back to the regs, and farmers do want to know just who is standing up for farming at the cabinet table. The amended regulation 63/09 indicates that all treated corn and soybean seed is now registered as a class 12 pesticide, so it characterizes a treated seed as a pesticide and therefore regulate the seed, not the pesticide. It’s unacceptable. It’s unnecessary. It’s inappropriate. It will cause significant and irrevocable economic damage without any clear evidence with any off-setting benefits for pollinators. Yet another reason farmers realize your regulatory process is simply unworkable. Minister, why would you, as Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, regulate a seed itself as a pesticide?

Hon. Jeff Leal: I certainly want to thank the member for his supplement, but I want to know where the official opposition stands in defending supply management in the province of Ontario. I want to know where the official opposition stands, providing 60% by the government of Canada to make our risk management program whole for all the farmers of the province of Ontario. But, thirdly, Mr. Speaker, I want to quote about some people who are agronomists in this area. Greg Stewart, the official agronomist for Maizex Seeds, has said about purchasing untreated seed when needed: “It’s not too difficult.” DeKalb agronomist Bob Thirwall said the process isn’t as onerous as some growers think: “We’ve talked about it with a few growers: Is it any more work than the paperwork for having insecticide applied by airplane? We decided it’s actually less work.” Ken Currah, Pride agronomist: “We are encouraging growers to have that discussion with their agronomists. ‘What acres need I need it on? What percentage can I do without?” This is what I’m hearing from grassroots farmers—

For more information, contact MPP Toby Barrett at 416-325-8404 or toby.barrett@pc.ola.org  Please mention The Silo when contacting.

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1 Comment to VIDEO: MPP Barrett to Ontario Ag Minister- Why regulate a seed itself as a pesticide?

  1. Bobbi Ann Brady-Dwornikiewicz

    UPDATE- Barrett calls for re-evaluation of neonic ban
    CALEDONIA – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett is calling on Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal to re-evaluate the pending ban on neonicotinoid insecticides.

    Barrett, the Opposition Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Critic, made the call in the wake of the pre-release of a study by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency. The study evaluated pollinator risk from Imidacloprid, one of three different chemicals classed as neonicotinoid pesticides. The study found there was no potential risk to bees from seed treatment use of Imidacloprid. It also found some potential risk to bees from leaf and soil treatment use of the insecticide.

    Past studies have found there could be potential short-term and long-term effects on pollinators from Imidacloprid exposure. However, the PMRA authors noted, “These studies have generally been conducted under laboratory situations or in the field with bees exposed to Imidacloprid at doses higher than may normally be encountered in the environment.”

    The Health Canada study looked at all potential uses of Imidacloprid at levels typically seen in agriculture applications. It is used on cereals, fruits, herbs, legumes, oilseeds, vegetables, Christmas trees and in greenhouse applications. Although other neonicotinoids are the primary chemicals used on corn, soybeans and other oil seeds, these initial findings are reason for pause on a ban, Barrett said. He discussed these issues today at the District 6 annual meeting of the Grain Farmers of Ontario.

    “Leal jumped the gun by implementing the ban,” he said. “What this study found is different than past research. In addition, oilseed producers completed measures to reduce neonic dust during the application process and weren’t given a chance to evaluate these measures prior to the ban. The ban needs to be re-evaluated in light of the new evidence.”

    At the same time, Barrett is cognizant of other application methods and the potential for bee exposure.

    “We need to make our decisions based on the best available science, not political expediency to satisfy the government’s urban constituency,” Barrett said.

    A related value assessment of neonicotinoid use on corn and soybeans found a $74 to $83 million benefit to the corn industry and a benefit of $37 to $51 million for soybeans. Although these are national values, much of it is centred in Ontario.
    Comments on the first phase of the study will be accepted for 60 days after Jan. 18. PMRA will publish a final document of the evaluation of Imidacloprid, and continue evaluating other neonicotinoids with a target of a December 2016 release date. Bobbi Ann Brady-Dwornikiewicz

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