Neonicotinoids, or neonics, are the most-widely used class of insecticide worldwide.

The two types of neonics that are widely-used in Canadian agriculture: Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam. There are currently 16 products registered in Canada that list Clothianidin as an active ingredient, and 23 that list Thiamethoxam. According to the 2013 Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s sales report, which was released in 2015, Thiamethoxam is the eighth-highest-used insecticide in Canada based on sales. Clothianidin is the ninth.

In the agriculture sector, neonics, like Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam, are marketed as a way to protect crops from harmful insects. But studies show that these pesticides are also likely to harm “non-target organisms.” In other words, they harm species beyond the insects they’re designed to control. Research suggests neonics have played a role in mass bee die-offs, and that the pesticides harm bees’ metabolic, immune, and reproductive functions, and negatively affect bees’ foraging and homing behaviour.

Why is Ecojustice involved?

The PMRA is currently re-evaluating the use of neonicotinoids and their effects on pollinators, and final decisions for Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam are expected sometime in 2018. Both substances have been linked to mass die-offs of pollinators and both are currently conditionally registered for use in Canada under the Pest Control Products Act.

With bee populations plummeting and a growing body of science pointing to neonicotinoids as part of the problem we believe that two years is too long to wait for action on this issue.

To help protect these important pollinators from neonics now, in early July 2016, Ecojustice lawyers filed a lawsuit on behalf of Wilderness Committee, Ontario Nature, David Suzuki Foundation and Friends of the Earth that argues Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam are unlawfully registered.

What would a win mean?

If successful, this case could pave the way for more rigorous reviews of toxic pesticides in Canada, particularly those with the potential to harm pollinators, like Clothianidin and Thiamethoxam.

The Act already has requirements that protect the environment. We want those met going forward – for neonicotinoids and every other pesticide. No pesticide should be used in Canada unless and until it meets the Act’s registration standards for protection of human health and the environment.