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Feds plan to limit uses of ‘neonic’ pesticides, but outright ban still likely

OTTAWA — Federal scientists are finalizing restrictions on a much-used class of pesticides to try to protect bees.

The recommendations could be moot in less than a year, however, if the same agency upholds an existing decision to ban most uses of the same products to protect other types of insects.

The Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Health Canada has spent the last seven years reviewing the approvals of nicotine-based pesticides, known as neonicotinoids, that are popular among farmers, backyard green-thumbs and lawn aficionados.

The long review process was made even more complicated by the fact that the agency held separate reviews on the same products — one looking at the impact on pollinators such as bees and one for aquatic insects.

While Health Canada found bees are only harmed by certain uses of the products, its concern about the rising concentrations in ground and surface water led it to decide last year that it needed to phase out most outdoor uses of the pesticides over the next three to five years.

It won’t actually finalize that decision until January 2020 however, so for now the decision is to bar the products from being sprayed on some fruit crops, and limit the frequency with which they can be used on others, starting in 2021.

The Canadian Press

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