Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–December 15, 2015. Last week Montreal, the largest city in Canada’s Quebec province, announced plans for an all-out ban on the use of bee-toxic neonicotinoid pesticides. The new regulations represent the strongest move against this neurotoxic class of insecticides by any government entity to date. Environmental and health advocates are praising the ban as a sign that more and more localities in North America are finding these chemicals unnecessary to manage pest problems, and not worth the risk to pollinators and other wildlife.
Montreal’s regulations provide for a complete ban, “without exception,” on the use of neonicotinoids outside of buildings on City land. Prior to the new rules, private citizens and businesses could obtain a temporary permit for the use of neonicotinoids in the case of an infestation, however, the permit will no longer be available and citizens will be encouraged to employ alternative practices or products. The ban will also apply to golf courses and properties in the City used for agricultural and horticultural purposes.
“By adopting a regulation that prohibits the use of such pesticides in Montreal, our Administration places the health of its citizens, the quality of life of its neighborhoods and the preservation of biodiversity, natural environments and green spaces in the center of its concerns,” said Réal Ménard, head of sustainable development, environment, large parks and green spaces for Montreal. “This tighter control of pesticides will, among other to better protect bees and other pollinators.”
Montreal’s move follows a major overhaul of pesticide laws announced in late November 2015 by Quebec province. Quebec acted to restrict the use of “high risk” pesticides such as neonicotinoids, atrazine, and organophosphates in both agriculture and urban and residential environments.
As the science linking neonicotinoids to the decline of honey bees and other wild pollinators continues to strengthen, more and more governments are taking action to reduce or eliminate their use in pest management. In the U.S., local governments in Minneapolis, MN, Lafayette and Boulder, CO, Portland, OR, Montgomery County, MD, and numerous other locations have restricted or eliminated the use of neonicotinoids on public and/or private property. Like Montreal, these localities are not simply aiming to replace neonicotinoids with another toxic pesticide, but alter their pest management approach by putting an emphasis on prevention, monitoring, and cultural, mechanical and biological controls if pest problems do get out of hand.
Montreal’s new regulations reveal that neonicotinoids are simply not necessary in settings long considered a third rail for pesticide regulation in the U.S.: golf courses and agriculture. In 2014, EPA released a memorandum concluding that soybean seeds treated with neonicotinoid insecticides provide little or no overall benefits in controlling insects or improving yield or quality in chemical-intensive soybean production. The memo states, “In studies that included a comparison to foliar insecticides, there were no instances where neonicotinoid seed treatments out-performed any foliar insecticide in yield protection from any pest.” Furthermore, preliminary reports out of the UK find that the country is poised to harvest higher than expected yields of canola in its first neonicotinoid-free growing season since a European moratorium on neonicotinoids went into place in 2013. In golf, grubs are often the target of neonicotinoids, but a growing number of alternative products and practices continue to be developed.
Grassroots change happens when committed individuals come together for the common good. Help push for restrictions on neonicotinoids and other toxic pesticides in your community. To become active, contact Beyond Pesticides for resources and factsheets available to help you organize and reach your local elected officials. Give us a call (202-543-5450) or email ([email protected]) for one-on-one consultation about the strategies you can take to have a positive impact on local pollinators.
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.