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Ontario plans to protect bees

Staff writer |
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change have announced measures to protect pollinator health.

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Both ministries have set a goal of reducing by 80 percent the number of acres planted to corn and soybeans using neonicotinoid-treated seed by 2017. To many farm groups, reports, it amounts to a de-facto ban.

The ministries say the federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency has found a link between planting corn and soybean seeds treated with the agricultural insecticide and bee deaths in Ontario.

Pollinator health is vital to crops such as apples, cherries, peaches, plums, cucumbers, asparagus, squash, pumpkins and melons.

The ministries' approach is expected to improve pollinator health, and ensure a healthy ecosystem and agricultural sector. It's also expected to reduce the over-winter honeybee mortality rate to 15 percent by 2020.

The province says it will consult on a proposal to reduce the use of neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed. If it's approved, new rules on the use of neonicotinoids will be in place by July 1, 2015, in time for the 2016 agricultural planting season.

The discussion on pollinator health is open for comment for more than 60 days on Ontario's Environmental and Regulatory Registries. Consultation sessions will be held in December this year and in January 2015 to seek input from industry, researchers, organizations and individuals.

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