OBA Issues Update: The Unexpected Consequences of Ontario's Class 12 Legislation

Ontario’s Class 12 legislation was designed to reduce the risk to insect pollinators from the overuse of neonicotinoid treatments on corn and soy seed. However, sales reports and research are showing that new pesticides being used in place of neonics may have actually increased the risk.

As of July 1, 2015, to protect insect pollinators from the overuse of pesticides, new requirements for buying and using neonicotinoid-treated corn and/or soybean seed were phased in across Ontario. At that time, more than 90% of corn and 65% of soy seeds planted were treated.

Neonicotinoids are a class of systemic pesticides that are water soluble and work by being ingested by the plant-killing insects when they feed on the target crop. However, less than 20% of the pesticide is absorbed by the plant – the rest remains in the soil and can translocate to adjoining flowering plants or migrate from runoff to creeks and waterways.

The goal of Class 12 was to reduce the usage of these pesticides by containing the use to about 15% of cropping areas. This was OMAFRA crop specialists’ estimate of the percentage of acreage that was subject to pest pressure and where the use of neonicotinoid seed treatment was warranted. Per the legislation, in order to purchase neonic-treated seeds, farmers had to attend an IPM course and have independent verification that pests targeted by neonics were present in their soil.

One other requirement of the legislation was annual reporting on the sale of corn and soy seeds treated with the three neonicotinoid molecules: clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and imidacloprid.

The annual sales survey sent to dealers asked for sales by acreage and by the mass (tons) of neonicotinoid-treated and non-treated seeds sold or transferred.


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