While dithering over neonicotinoids — bee-killing pesticides banned in Europe — Canadian regulators are poised to approve a closely-related poison called flupyradifurone. We call it the new "F"-word.
Like neonics, flupyradifurone attacks the nervous system of insect pests. Both are systemic pesticides that are taken up by plants and move through their tissues into pollen, fruits and seeds. Both are also persistent, sticking around in the environment and, with repeated applications, building up over time.
Health Canada says flupyradifurone may pose a risk to bees, birds, worms, spiders, small mammals and aquatic bugs — familiar words to anyone following Canada’s slow-motion review of neonics. Dust from corn seed treated with neonics is implicated in large-scale bee die-offs during planting season in Ontario and Quebec. Not only is this is alarming in its own right; the dead bees are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, signalling broader ecological consequences.
Inexplicably, Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has yet to take action to curtail the use of neonics, and now the agency is preparing to give the green light to a look-alike chemical, flupyradifurone.