Questions By Members, 9 July 2015
Source: Legislative Assembly of PEI

Neonicotinoids

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Later today in this House a petition will be tabled on protecting pollinators on Prince Edward Island. Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides developed in the early 1990s, and they now account globally for about 40% of the insecticide market and over 80% of seed treatments.

A question to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries: Could the minister explain the risks associated with neonicotinoids?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and Government House Leader.

Mr. McIsaac: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

This is very interesting. I was speaking with Chris Jordan from my department on this very issue the other day. It has to do with the fact that we need the pollinators for our apple crops, for many of our crops in the province, and the concern with neonicotinoids is the fact that they may harm these, the bees and the pollinators. That’s the biggest concern and we’re looking very carefully at that very issue.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party for his first supplementary question.

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I absolutely agree. Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency, PMRA, found that neonicotinoids were responsible for the majority of bee die-offs in 240 locations in Ontario and Quebec recently, and aside from honey production bees are, as you mentioned, the primary pollinators of many crops on Prince Edward Island: blueberries, apples – not potatoes – but a many great number of products here on Prince Edward Island.

Question to the minister: Does the department collect any data on the use of neonicotinoids here on Prince Edward Island?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Mr. McIsaac: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

That whole issue was discussed, I believe, at a seminar in the western part of Canada not that long ago. We have our own workers like Chris Jordon from that area of our department working on that. All the full details, if you want a copy, I could give you a detailed copy of what information we do gather on that. It is a great concern to our province because the pollinators, we have to be careful of that, and we, again, are looking at that whole issue very seriously.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party for his second supplementary question.

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you again, Mr. Speaker.

A report entitled Worldwide Integrated Assessment of the Impacts of Systemic Pesticides on Biodiversity and Ecosystems was released in January of this year. The report examined over 800 peer-reviewed scientific studies and concluded that neonics are causing widespread ecological damage, especially to pollinators and other beneficial organisms. The report also concluded that the use of neonics is incompatible with the principles of ITM, Integrated Pest Management, in part because neonics are not applied just as a last resort, but they’re rather a preemptive and often unnecessary measure.

Will this government commit to creating a plan to transition away from neonicotinoids here on Prince Edward Island and ultimately to ban them?

Speaker: The hon. Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Mr. McIsaac: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

We are, as I said, looking at that very closely. In fact, if you want to come over to the Jones Building, went down on the bottom, the basement floor, we have a little lab there. We’re actually looking at – we study all those items, aphids, whatever that may be, and that’s where we can have a good discussion on the neonics and what we’re doing on that.

On a complete and outright ban we’re not at that point at the present time, but what we are doing is following that whole thing very carefully. Because like I say, we need our pollinators for many of our crops and we’ll be continuing to watch over this issue very carefully.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

 

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