Backgrounder — Proposed Re-evaluation Decision: Imidacloprid — Pollinator (Bee) Assessment


May 2018

Health Canada regularly reviews pesticides to make sure that they continue to meet modern health and safety standards. Neonicotinoid pesticides are currently undergoing such reviews. As part of the review process, Health Canada has published a pollinator risk assessment on the pesticide imidacloprid. This assessment summarizes the potential risks posed by imidacloprid to insect pollinators - such as honey bees, bumble bees, and solitary bees - in Canada, as well as proposed strategies to reduce the risks to these pollinators.

To protect pollinators, Health Canada is proposing to phase out many uses of imidacloprid on crops that bees find attractive, and to not allow spraying of some crops before or during bloom. The proposed decision will be open for public consultation for 90 days.

This pollinator assessment is the last piece of the re-evaluation of imidacloprid. In November 2016, Health Canada published a proposed decision for the re-evaluation of imidacloprid (Proposed Re-evaluation Decision PRVD2016-20, Imidacloprid), which assessed health and environmental risks but excluded an assessment of impacts on pollinators. In that document, Health Canada proposed to phase out all agricultural uses and a majority of other outdoor uses of imidacloprid over three to five years for the protection of the environment. A 120-day public consultation was held on that proposed decision document.

The current proposed decision is based solely on the pollinator risk assessment for imidacloprid, and considers a substantial amount of new data and additional published research on pollinators that were not available in 2016. The proposed mitigation measures to protect pollinators are in addition to the proposed decisions published for consultation in November 2016.

With the completion of the pollinator assessment, Health Canada has finished its scientific review for the cyclical re-evaluation of imidacloprid. The overall conclusions of the re-evaluation are that the risks to human health are acceptable but that use of imidacloprid poses environmental risks of concern to aquatic insects and pollinators. To mitigate these risks, Health Canada is proposing to phase out all agricultural and a majority of other outdoor uses of imidacloprid over three to five years.

Feedback received during the 90-day consultation on the pollinator assessment, in addition to the comments received on the previous consultation, will be considered in Health Canada's final decision on the use of imidacloprid, which is expected in December 2018.

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