by Kalynn Sawyer Helmer
AgriNews Staff Writer
OTTAWA–On Wed., Aug. 15, Health Canada announced plans to phase out two agricultural pesticides – clothianidin and thiamethoxam – after findings deemed them to be harmful to pollinators and aquatic insects. Health Canada will hold a consultation to determine if the pesticides need to be banned for all outdoor uses including, food, feed, seed treatments and turf applications. The cancellation would occur over a period of three to five years and would result in 14 end-use clothianidin products and 18 end-use thiamethoxam products being prohibited outdoors.

Before making the final decision, Health Canada will hold a 90 day comment period from Aug. 15 until Nov. 13. Comments are encouraged from stakeholders and interested parties during this time.

The two pesticides are in the class of neonicotinoids, which are typically used to mediate insects on agricultural crops. They can also be used by non-agricultural landowners for turf and ornamental plants or to control cockroaches and ants. Health Canada re-evaluated the neoicotinoid, imidacloprid in Nov. 2016. The same proposal was made to phase-out the product over three to five years. That consultation found significant risk from the pesticide to pollinators and the department suggested strict regulations on the use of the product.

Later in May 2018, another consultation period was opened for 90 days to include further comments and findings from the previous consultations. Those results are expected in December of 2018.

Due to the findings of the re-evaluation of imidacloprid, Health Canada then began the special reviews of clothianidin and thiamethoxam. Health Canada explained: “A special review is initiated when there are reasonable grounds to believe that the health or environmental risks, or the value (including effectiveness), of a pesticide is unacceptable.

“In the cases of clothianidin and thiamethoxam, special reviews were initiated based on concerns identified by Health Canada from available scientific information that these two pesticides are frequently being detected in aquatic environments in Canada at concentrations that may pose a risk to aquatic insects.”

Should the review deem the two pesticides damaging, a few agricultural companies will feel the effects. Most prominent will be Syngenta Canada Inc., many of whom’s products are thiamethoxam based. Syngenta released a statement after the news broke. “We are disappointed with the proposed decision regarding the special review of thiamethoxam.

“We believe there is additional information that was not considered by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) as part of the special review process to-date that if taken into account, together with other real world studies and information, would support the continued responsible use of thiamethoxam and the maintenance of abundant aquatic invertebrate populations.

“We have not yet had the opportunity to review, in detail, the proposed decision associated with the special review of thiamethoxam and will take the time to do so now that it has been released.”

The final decisions from the special review are intended to be announced at the end of 2019 after all comments and information has been received and reviewed.