Pollinator Health


CSTA recognizes that industry has a role to play in ensuring that seed-applied insecticides are used in a manner that minimizes the risk of pollinator exposure. We all have a vested interest in the health and wellbeing of pollinators. They are critical for the production of many crops and for the overall success of the Canadian agriculture industry. CSTA is committed to ensuring that seed companies and their farmer customers continue to have access to the latest technologies that they need to remain competitive and be successful.

CSTA actively works, on its own and in partnership with the value chain, to support science as the basis for regulatory and policy decisions.  While our role is primarily national, we also provide support to our members and the value chain on provincial initiatives that impact the access of our members and their farmer customers to this important technology.

Follow the links below to learn more about CSTA’s work.

September 28, 2015: Government of Ontario Presentations on Neonicotinoid Regulations – OMAFRA and MOECC held two seed company/vendor presentations in September at the request of CSTA. The presentations focused on the impact of the regulations on Seed Companies/Vendors as well as Pest Scouting. The Seed Company presentation is available here and the Pest Scouting presentation is available here.

July 24, 2015: Ontario Government Seed Vendor Presentation At CSTA’s 92nd Annual Meeting in Windsor the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) gave a presentation on the Seed Vendor component of the new regulations to restrict the use of neonicotinoid seed treatments. A copy of the presentation is available here

July 20, 2015: PMRA Incident Report-  The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) of Health Canada has now released its report of honey bee incidents for 2015. A copy of the full report is available here. The numbers are very positive and further reinforce that the stewardship activities undertaken by industry to mitigate potential risk to honey bees are working.  In Ontario the number of bee yards that reported incidents at planting has fallen considerably.  During planting period there was 70% decrease in the number of reported yards affected in 2014 compared to 2013, and in 2015 the reduction was 80% compared to 2013. A full copy of the report is available here.

July 20, 2015: Overwintering Loss Report Now Available- The Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists (CAPA) Just released the annual honey bee wintering loss survey for the winter of 2014/15 in Canada.   Provincial Apiculturists collected survey data from beekeepers across Canada who own 362,949 honey colonies. This represents 50.8% of all colonies operated and wintered in Canada in 2014. The national average percentage of colony winter loss was 16.4%. Provincial averages ranged from 10.4-37.8%. Colony winter loss in Ontario was 37.8%,  a significant decrease compared to the 58.0% loss reported in 2013/14. Overall, the reported national colony loss is one of the lowest losses since 2006/07 and represents a decrease of 34.4% from 2013/14 winter losses.  A copy of the full report is available here.

June 22, 2015: Ontario Briefings on New Regulations – Last week OMAFRA and MOECC held two briefings to discuss the new regulations to drastically reduce the amount of acres planted with neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seed. CSTA staff and members participated in both meetings.

While we are very disappointed that the Ontario government has decided to proceed with these non-science based regulations however we do want to ensure that our members have all the information they need to be successful. A copy of the presentation given at the briefing is available here.

June 15, 2015: Ontario Government Approves Neonic Regulations-  Last week the Ontario government published regulatory amendments for neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds that will come into effect July 1, 2015.

CSTA is disappointed that the government has gone ahead with the regulations and that the serious concerns of the value chain were not taken into consideration. CSTA staff and member companies have made every effort to express our concerns about these regulations to the Ontario government, including; during meetings with the Minster of Environment and Minister of Agriculture, through value chain letters, public meetings and by formal submissions.

It is also very disappointing that Ontario has chosen to take an approach to bee health that is out of step with the United States, our own federal government and the recent findings of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

CSTA has confirmed that Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) staff will deliver a technical briefing on these regulations at CSTA’s Corn, Soybeans and Eastern Cereals Committee at the Annual Meeting next month in Windsor.

Additional information related to the regulations is available here:

June 4, 2015: CSTA Comments on PMRA Draft Value Assessment – As reported in previous issues of Trade Winds, CSTA was asked to provide input on PMRA’s Draft Value Assessment of Corn and Soybean Seed Treatment Use of Clothianidin, Imidacloprid and Thiamethoxam.

CSTA submitted our comments last week which you can find here

June 5, 2015: Pest Management Advisory Council – In 2014 CSTA was appointed to the Pest Management Advisory Council (PMAC) to the Minister of Health, Rona Ambrose. The Council met in Ottawa in February, 2015 for two days with senior officials from Health Canada and the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) to develop recommendations to the Minister on priorities for PMRA.

PMAC’s recommendations have now been finalized and have been sent to the Minister of Health for her review. The recommendations focus on several key areas, including:

  1. That PMRA retain its A-based funding while also operating as a cost recovery centre
  2. That a 5 Year Strategic Plan continue to be developed
  3. That PMRA continue to be allocated sufficient resources to protect pollinator health
  4. That PMRA communicate more frequently to the public on the status of re-evaluations and more

A full copy of the Council’s recommendations are available here in English and here in French.

May 27, 2015: Senate Report on Bee Health – Last week the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry released its report on bee health; The Importance of Bee Health to Sustainable Food Production in Canada. The report discusses the current status of bee health in Canada and outlines the Committee’s strategies for its improvement.

The Senate Committee makes nine recommendations including; long term research funding, increasing pollinator habitat, implementation of National Bee Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard and the continuation of work by the Bee Health Roundtable.

A full copy of the report and its recommendations is available here. The National Bee Health Roundtable issued a release in response to the Senate Report which is available here.

May 26, 2015: Launch of Bees Matter – Bees Matter is a partnership of agricultural organizations with a vested interest in pollinator health. The mission of the group is to provide a platform for conversation, dialogue and information sharing regarding modern agriculture and the importance of ensuring a health environment for honey bees, which play an important role in Canadian food production and agriculture.

The Bees Matter website features four main areas; Why Honey Bees Matter, Honey Bee Learning Centre, Buzzing Gardens and History of Honey Bees in Canada. The website will serve as a great information source for farmers, teachers and the general public. For more information please visit: www.beesmatter.ca.

May 19, 2015: US National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees – The White House released a National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and other Pollinators. The White House report is the result of a comprehensive consultation spearheaded by the U.S. Pollinator Health Taskforce that emphasizes the importance of a collaborative, multi-pronged and science based approach. The report also includes an accompanying Pollinator Research Action Plan.

Both the White House and the Bee Health Roundtable (BHRT) share many of the same priorities for bee health, including; improving nutritional sources for pollinators, mitigating pollinator losses from pests, pathogens, pesticides; engaging in public education and improving research and innovation.

The BHRT issued a press release in response to the White House report which can be found here. The White House Report can be found here and the Research Action Plan can be found here.

May 7, 2015: CSTA Comments on Draft Ontario Regulations –  On Thursday May 7th CSTA submitted formal comments in response to the Ontario government’s draft regulations; ‘ Regulatory Amendments to Ontario Regulation 63/09 under the Pesticides Act to Reduce the Use of Neonicotinoid Insecticides.’ CSTA’s submission expressed our concern with the regulations and the timelines associated with the comment period and their implementation. A copy of  CSTA’s comments are available here.  

April 13, 2015: Updated Industry BMPs- In 2014 CSTA and CropLife Canada developed industry Best Management Practices (BMP) for planting treated seed.  The piece was distributed broadly to industry along the value chain. An updated copy of Protecting Pollinators: What can you do? is now available here. 

March 18, 2015: National Bee Health Roundtable Press Release –  On March 5, 2015, the National Bee Health Roundtable (BHRT) held its third workshop since its inception in March 2014. The industry members of the BHRT were pleased to report on the achievements of the first year. The roundtable, a coalition of stakeholders with a direct interest in the health of bees, is taking action to improve bee health and has several areas of significant progress. This includes the development of a National Bee Health Action Plan which presents key objectives and factors that contribute to the health of bees. 

Find the press release in both English and French. For more information please visit the Roundtable website.

March 9, 2015: Ontario Pollinator Task Force  – While CSTA’s focus has been on national policy and regulations around bee health and the use of seed applied insecticides, our staff provide input and support for provincial efforts as well.  Some of CSTA’s members in Ontario have been very actively involved in the Pollinator Task Force, which is hosted and organized by the Grain Farmers of Ontario.   The Pollinator  Task Force has developed a Pollinator Blueprint, which, according to the news release: offers a practical and sustainable alternative to the Ontario government’s proposed seed treatment regulations.”  Mark Brock, Chair of the Grain Farmers of Ontario says the Task Force:  a  coalition of beekeepers, farmers, and value-chain stakeholders: “has consulted over 900 farmers and received numerous presentations from stakeholder groups. We are confident that our Blueprint is workable and delivers the necessary elements for the long-term success of pollinators alongside agriculture.”  Find the release and the Blueprint by following this link.

January 25, 2015: CSTA Submission to the Government of Ontario-  In response to the Government of Ontario’s discussion paper ‘Pollinator Health: A Proposal for Enhancing Pollinator Health and Reducing the Use of Neonicotinoid Pesticides in Ontario’ CSTA drafted the following submission which can be found here.

November 26, 2014: News Release: Seed Trade Urges Governments to Base Decisions on Science CSTA’s reaction to the Ontario Government Announcement can be found here.

November 25, 2014: PMRA Update on Neonicotinoids and Bee Health – The same day that the government of Ontario released its regulatory proposal the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) of Health Canada released an interim report on their ongoing re-evaluation of neonicotinoids. The report is available on PMRA’s website here.

November 25, 2014: Ontario Government’s Regulatory Proposal – the Ontario Government announced a 60 day public consultation on a discussion document entitled Pollinator Health: A Proposal for Enhancing Pollinator Health and Reducing the Use of Neonicotinoid Pesticides in Ontario.  The discussion document has two main objectives: 1) Reduce the over-winter honey bee mortality rate to 15 per cent by 2017 and 2) Reduce the number of corn and soybean acres planted with neonicotinoid treated seed by 80% by 2020.

A link to the Consultation Document is available here:  http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/pollinator/discuss-paper.pdf

November 25, 2014: Joint Industry Letter to Ontario Premier, Kathleen Wynne – In November, 2014 a value chain letter was sent on behalf of the CSTA, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers and the Association of Equipment Manufacture to the Premier of Ontario and the Ontario Ministers of Environment and Climate Change and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. The letter expressed the mutual concerns of the Ontario agriculture industry and is available here.

October, 2014: New Federal Roundtable on Bee Health – CSTA is a founding member of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) 13th value chain roundtable, the Bee Health Roundtable (BHRT). The BHRT  was established as a means to allow for a national cross-sectoral dialogue to identify specific actions to be taken to address risks and opportunities related to bee health. This roundtable is intended to complement, but not duplicate, work already underway at the provincial level and within and between industry sectors. CSTA is also a member of the roundtable’s Steering Committee and sits on a number of working groups. For more information visit the BHRT website here. 

September, 2014: Why I Need Seed Treatments Opinion Piece – In September, 2014, CSTA President, Dave Baute wrote an opinion piece  outlining why seed treatments are used by both seed companies and farmers. It is available here. 

January, 2014: Notice: Additional Labeling Required for Neonicotinoid Treated Corn and Soybean Seed –  Beginning in 2014 additional labeling is required by the Pest Management Regulatory agency (PMRA) of Health Canada for ALL corn and soybean seed that has been treated with neonicotinoids. The following additional labeling is required:

  • PMRA labeling to appear on all pallet IDs
  • PMRA labeling to be printed off and placed in the sleeve/pocket of all bulk containers and polywoven bags
  • PMRA labeling to appear on invoices (where possible)

Beginning in 2015 PMRA labeling will also have to appear on all corn and soybean seed  tags.

December, 2013: Mandatory use of new Seed Flow Lubricant by PMRA- In November, 2013 PMRA mandated the use of Fluency Agent from Bayer CropScience with the following statement: “When using a seed flow lubricant with neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seed, only Fluency Agent from Bayer CropScience is permitted”.  Fluency Agent reduces the amount of insecticide active ingredient released in treated seed dust during planting therefore reducing the risk of exposure to non-target insects, including bees.

This product was launched as an industry stewardship initiative in 2014 and will continue to be available from seed retailers. The Fluency Agent has been priced as a stewardship product and a 400g pail treats 125 acres.  Bayer has produced the following information pieces regarding their new Fluency Agent:

November, 2013:  Industry Best Management Practices for Pollinator Protection – In 2014 CSTA and CropLife Canada developed industry Best Management Practices (BMP) for planting treated seed.  The piece was distributed broadly to industry along the value chain.  It is available here in English and French.

October, 2013: Health Canada Best Management Practices for Planting Treated Seed – The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) of Health Canada has created a set of mandatory Best Management Practices to be followed when planting neonicotinoid treated corn and soybean seed. These BMPs were in place for the 2014 planting season and. The PMRA Best Management Practices piece is available here.  

September, 2013: Value of Seed Treatments and the Role of Industry –  In 2013 a PowerPoint presentation was developed that both discusses the value of seed treatments as well as outlines the role that industry has to play in ensuring the safe and responsible use of the products. A PDF of the presentation is available in both English and French. Please contact Dave at the CSTA office if you would like the presentation sent to you.

September, 2013: CSTA Requests the Creation of  a National Roundtable on Bee Health – In the Fall of 2013 CSTA’s President wrote to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food in support of a proposal to create a National Roundtable on Bee Health. The letter can be found here. 

August, 2013: Value of Seed Treatments Fact Sheet: NeonicotinoidsThe following is a quick, one-page fact sheet about the value of neonicotinioid seed treatment technology. It can be found here in both English and French.

 July, 2013: Value Chain Coalition on Seed Treatments and Pollinator Health –  In July, 2013 CSTA  began a value chain dialogue on the use of seed applied insecticides and pollinator health.  Out of these discussions a ‘Seed Applied Insecticide and Pollinator Health Value Chain Coalition’ was formed. The value chain coalition brings together grower groups, equipment manufacturers, developers, applicators, marketers and users of seed treatments and treated seed. The group was formed to share information and messages, and to work together on the issue where possible.   The first step was the development of a letter to Federal and Provincial Ministers of Agriculture and the Environment.  The letter can be found in both English and French.