CUPE Quebec, through its Environment Committee, has denounced the about-face by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), which answers to Health Canada and has authorized the use of two neonicotinoid pesticides that have been prohibited since 2018.

According to the committee, the proposals to increase the limits on glyphosate residue in legumes and to allow three times more traces of insecticides and fungicides in small fruits are scandalous.  

“What gave rise to these proposals or rulings by the PMRA?” asks Emmanuel Patola, chair of the CUPE Quebec Environment Committee. He believes the demands on the PMRA and constant lobbying of the Agency by pesticide multinationals such as Bayer and Syngenta have had a bearing on its decisions.

It must be pointed out that neonicotinoids attack the nervous system of all pollinating insects. Not only do they linger for a long time in the environment, but they can build up in soil and in waterways. As a result, the environmental impacts are quite significant.

“On what grounds has the PMRA found it “acceptable” to allow the large-scale use of thiamethoxam and clothianidin, two toxic molecules prohibited in the country in 2018 and still banned in the European Union?” added Patola. “On studies, the vast majority of which come from pesticide manufacturers themselves.”

The committee maintains that it is essential that the pesticide certification system in Canada be reformed and made independent and transparent. Protecting human health and the environment must take precedence over the interests of the pesticide industry. The process must also be democratic and meet the public’s expectations. Scientific studies on which rulings are based must come from independent and credible sources, which include universities, NGOs and governments.