DuPont Pioneer is offering Canada farmers an option for non-insecticide treated corn and soybeans for 2014, in light of concerns raised about honeybee health.
DuPont Pioneer issued a statement today that it will make non-insecticide treated corn and soybean seed available to Canadian farmers for 2014.
Specifically, the company is providing a neonicotinoid-free option for corn and soybean seed available to farmers there, according to a press release issued by the Canadian Honey Council. The council says that such products have been linked to bee deaths in Ontario and Quebec.
The company reports that for the U.S., "Pioneer is committed to meeting the changing requests of our customers, which includes our seed treatment offerings. At this time, we will continue to use seed treatment and follow best practices for packaging and planting our seed products in the U.S." The statement was attributed to Greg Lamka, DuPont Pioneer Strategy Manager-Seed Applied Tech.
Earlier this month, the company had announced it is making a neonicotinoid-free option for corn and soybean seed available in Canada, according to a press release issued by the Canadian Honey Council. The council says that such products have been linked to bee deaths in Ontario and Quebec.
Bee die-offs in North America are occurring at a significant rate. An annual survey funded by the USDA shows losses of managed honey bee colonies totaled 31.1% during the 2012-13 winter. Bee losses for each of the last six years have averaged 30.5%.
However, Bayer CropScience reports that "the overall number of honeybee colonies worldwide has increased by some 45% over the last 50 years, not decreased."
A joint report issued by the USDA and Environmental Protection Agency last spring cited a complex combination of factors as contributing to bee deaths: habitat loss, declining genetic diversity, poor diet, diseases, parasites—in particular, the Varroa mite—and pesticide exposure.
The latter is one that opponents of commercial agriculture are quick to tout as the main contributor to the problem, especially the neonicotinoid class of insecticides, often referred to as neonics. Despite extensive research by third-party firms, independent of crop protection companies, no concrete link between neonics and the honeybee syndrome Colony Collapse Disorder has been found.
Still, based on concerns about neonicotinoid products, the European Commission placed a partial ban on the use of three pesticides, imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam, for two years, starting in January 2014. The decision was based on a formal peer review by the European Food Safety Authority earlier this year
Likewise, in Canada, the federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) and Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE) are also evaluating the cause of extensive bee losses, which they report have coincided with corn planting. The assumption that pesticides contributed to the bee deaths has bee keepers in Canada petitioning the government to adopt a neonicotinoid ban similar to the one enacted by the European Commission.
More information on the DuPont Pioneer seed decisions follow.
Official statement from DuPont Pioneer concerning untreated seed:
"DuPont Pioneer will be offering growers an option for non-insecticide treated (IST) corn and soybeans for 2014 planting in Canada. This product is in response to Pioneer working toward meeting the evolving requests of our Canadian customers.
"Pioneer will continue to use seed treatments and follow best practices for the application and packaging of treated seed as well as educate our growers on best practices when planting our seed products. Seed treatments, including fungicides, insecticides, nematicides, and amendments, play a critical role in agriculture and the production of a healthy crop. In addition to helping manage against early season pests and diseases, they serve as a useful complement or alternative to foliar and soil chemical applications.
"Pioneer is actively involved with industry organizations such as CropLife Canada and the Canadian Seed Trade Association to develop and promote industry best practices and will continue those important engagements. Bee health is important to us and to many of our customers. Scientists are studying the wide variety of factors that may impact bee health, including parasites, disease and climate. We look forward to learning from their insights.
"Growers should speak with their local sales rep and equipment manufacturer to better understand what products are best for their operations. Manufacturers of insecticide seed treatment products are the best sources for answers to any questions you may have about a particular insecticide.
"Pioneer is committed to meeting the changing requests of our customers, which includes our seed treatment offerings. At this time, we will continue to use seed treatment and follow best practices for packaging and planting our seed products in the U.S."
Read the press release that led to DuPont Pioneer's statement on Sept. 26.