Sunday, 3 August 2014

Update on impending changes to pesticide use in BC

I recently sent an email to Gwendolyn Lohbrunner,  IPM Licence Officer Integrated Pest Management Unit, Ministry of Environment  inquiring about the implementation of the Intentions Paper. She responded with the email below which indicated that the changes outlined in the intentions paper are likely what we will see starting in 2015.
Paul Visentin CEC coordinator IEPMA

Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 10:40 AM

As you are aware, in October 2013 government proposed changes to the Integrated Pest Management regulation: Following the ensuing consultation period, responses were reviewed and summarized: Subsequently, small scale, targeted, follow up consultation has been conducted to investigate specific concerns and suggestions provided in the responses. We expect government to make a final decision soon.

As you may know, government`s intention was to restrict the use of pesticides not on Schedule 2 and 5 to licensees. Additionally, government intended to restrict access to these products in retail outlets. Based on follow-up consultation, we could see some minor changes but have not yet received any direction that a change from the Intentions Paper is occurring. With regard to the assistant applicator proposal, we do not expect any significant changes from what was described in the Intentions Paper.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Gwendolyn Lohbrunner, MPM, RPBio
IPM Licence Officer
Integrated Pest Management Unit, Environmental Standards Branch
Ministry of Environment

phone: (250) 356-0475 fax: (250) 387-8897

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Canada’s Bees Are Thriving Public Needs Facts Not Fear

originally printed in We Grow for the World on April 8 2014

This week’s guest commentary comes from Lee Townsend, a commercial beekeeper from Stony Plain, Alta. He has represented the beekeeping industry at both the national and provincial level over the past eight years.
News outlets throughout Canada are filled with stories about the imminent decline of honeybees and the calls by some beekeepers to ban the pesticides — called neonicotinoids — which they blame for their problems.
As a commercial beekeeper, I have a couple of points to make that may surprise some readers. First, the Canadian honeybee industry is far from collapsing — in fact, it’s thriving. The numbers don’t lie. Both the total number of honeybee colonies and beekeepers in Canada has risen dramatically since 2008.
My second point is that while the honeybee industry is stressed by many factors, there is one emerging threat that is becoming our biggest challenge. That isn’t the many natural infections that plague bees, ranging from varroa mites to nosema to the emergence of the small hive beetle in Ontario and Quebec. The rising numbers of bee colonies and flourishing honey and pollination industries demonstrate that beekeepers can contend with those problems.
No, the newest and most preventable threat comes from the mistaken alliance some beekeepers are forming with environmental activist groups who would turn farmers into enemies and drive a wedge between the farming and beekeeping communities that depend on each other for their livelihoods.
So why are we consistently hearing reports of the demise of our industry, while the numbers clearly show this is not true? Simply put, the neonicotinoid debate in eastern Canada.
In 2012, Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency reported that 43 beekeepers in Ontario and Quebec had exposure to these products. In 2013, the number of beekeepers affected (including Manitoba) increased to 82, impacting some 7,115 colonies. For these beekeepers, this is a very serious problem that threatens their livelihoods. But, put in perspective, this represents only slightly more than one per cent of Canada’s colonies over the past two years..
Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to work together to find out what is really happening, in part due to the insertion of special interest groups like the Sierra Club. There is no denying that neonics, like any other pesticide, can be toxic to honeybees if misapplied. But these special interest groups have scared beekeepers, the public, and the media into believing these products are far worse than actual scientific data indicates. If it was the epidemic they claim, why is it only affecting one per cent of Canada’s colonies? And out of that one per cent, we have yet to see data indicating exactly how many of those hives’ sole problem was neonic exposure.
In addition, these special interest groups fail to acknowledge there are colonies in Ontario and Quebec that are exposed to neonics on both corn and soy, with zero problems. And look at Western Canada. On the Prairies, 70 per cent of Canada’s colonies forage canola without issue. We are even exposed to corn and soy, and except for four beekeepers in Manitoba in 2013, there have been no issues there either.
Clearly there is need for further research, including the health status of these colonies prior to neonic exposure and clear records of the management practices of beekeepers. Most non-beekeepers don’t realize that just as farmers use pesticides to keep pests off their crops, beekeepers use pesticides inside the hive to control for infestations such as varroa mites. There is nothing wrong with this, if it is done properly. But beekeepers should keep this in mind when they link arms with activist groups with a larger anti-pesticide agenda.
Both weak and unhealthy mismanaged colonies are more susceptible to neonic exposure, just as they are to any other stress. But up until now, little information regarding either of these items has been shared by the affected beekeepers.
The only way a solution will be found is if beekeepers, growers and manufacturers of these products come together to work for a common solution. Since the first problems were reported, both the growers and seed manufacturers have demonstrated a willingness to work with beekeepers. In addition, Canada’s national bee organization, the Canadian Honey Council, has been working with all the involved parties on a solution.
Unfortunately, because of the antagonistic approach taken by some beekeepers — as well as the environmental groups for whom conflict is their bread and butter — this willingness to work with the honeybee industry is diminishing.
We depend on the growers for the land and forage our colonies rely on. The relationship between beekeepers, growers and the seed manufacturers is symbiotic. To let short-sighted agendas ruin that would be a tragedy. Emotional responses rarely solve problems

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Landscape vs Industrial Veg Noxious Weed Certificates 

Integrated Pest Management Staff, BC Ministry of Environment, were recently asked to clarify some crossover issues of  landscape vs Industrial Vegetation Noxious Weed certificate. The legislation does not define what the certificate can actually be used for. A  landscape certificate is historically used for residential property with the focus on turf and tree pests. A Industrial Veg Noxious weed certificate has been historically used for range management and large commercial properties such as BC Hydro and Fortis.  

With the increasing spread of noxious weeds can a landscape certificate holder control noxious weeds on private property?  

Is a Landscape certificate valid for treating  industrial commercial property  to remove unwanted vegetation? 

These questions were put to MOE staff and they responded with the answer below.  

We realize that certificate holders may have some uncertainty in what activities they may perform for some vegetation management programs.  The IPM Program has recently discussed the issue and our current position is:

- A certificate holder may only work in the category for which the certificate is valid.

- The IPM Program recognizes there are some areas of overlap, and are interested in assisting pest managers in clarifying these situations.

- If a person holds a landscape certificate and they encounter some noxious weeds or invasive plants pests that are being controlled for a landscape purpose in a landscaped setting, the certificate holder may perform the treatment.

- If the noxious weeds or invasive plants are being controlled because they are noxious or invasive (i.e., part of an invasive plant campaign), a certificate holder would be required to hold an industrial vegetation and noxious weed certificate.

- If certificate holders are unsure about specific situations, they should contact the IPM Program for clarification.

Monday, 7 April 2014


All Bugs Good and Bad 2014 Webinar Series

Please join us for this webinar series for information you can use about good and bad insects.  Topics will include how you can help good insects like bee pollinators and how to control insects we think of as bad, like fire ants, termites, and new invasive insects.  Spiders and ticks aren't actually insects, but we will talk about them too. Webinars will be on the first Friday of each month at 2 p.m. Eastern time.  Click on the title for information on how to connect to the webinar.

2014 Webinar Series:  All Bugs Good and Bad

FEBRUARY 7, 2014
If Flowers are Restaurants to Bees, then What Are Bees to Flowers?
Presented by Dr. John Skinner
Moderated by Danielle Carroll

MARCH 7, 2014
Straight Talk About Termites
Presented by Dr. Xing Ping Hu
Moderated by Mallory Kelley

APRIL 4, 2014
Get TickSmart: 10 Things to Know, 5 Things to Do
Presented by Dr. Thomas N. Mather
Moderated by Shawn Banks

MAY 2, 2014
Are Those Itsy Bitsy Spiders Good or Bad?
Presented by Dr. Nancy Hinkle
Moderated by Charles Pinkston

JUNE 6, 2014
Fire Ant Management
Presented by Elizabeth "Wizzie" Brown
Moderated by Gerald "Mike" McQueen

AUGUST 1, 2014
Minimize Mosquito Problems
Presented by Molly Keck
Moderated by Christopher Becker

Kudzu Bug Takes Over the Southeastern U.S and Brown Marmorated Stinkbug -- All Bad
Presented by Michael Toews and Tracy Leskey
Moderated by Willie Datcher

OCTOBER 3, 2014
Alien Invasions, Zombies Under Foot, and Billions of Decapitated Fire Ants
Presented by Dr. Sanford Porter
Moderated by Nelson Wynn

NOVEMBER 7, 2014
Where Have All the Honey Bees Gone?  Hope for the Future
Presented by Dr. John Skinner
Moderated by Sallie Lee

Monday, 24 March 2014

IEPMA Invitation to a unique session on fruit tree pest issues
2 CEC credits available
In cooperation with the PMRA and Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Agriculture you are invited to a dinner meeting and presentation on April 22 at Dakoda’s in Kelowna.
Pest Management, products and application techniques in the tree fruit industry are becoming increasingly more complicated and require better understanding of application methods. 
This meeting is meant to generate discussion and improve professionalism amongst applicators, companies and various government agencies. It is also an excellent opportunity to have one on one interaction with leading pest management experts in the tree fruit industry.
Dinner is at 5:30 and presentations start immediately after.
2 CEC credits available for those that attend the approx. 2 hrs of presentations
Guest speakers will have a short presentation followed by an open forum and Q&A session.
Codling Moth control
Hugh Philip, PAg Insect Pest Management Specialist SIR Program
Cherry fruit fly and Spotted Wing Drosophila
Susanna Acheampong Entomologist BC Ministry of Agriculture Plant Health Unit
Yvonne Herbison Regional Pesticide Officer PMRA Kelowna
Compliance issues and how best to avoid them
Andreas Wins –Purdy Pesticide Technician Ministry of Environment Penticton
Open Forum Q&A
Location:  Dakodas Bar and Grill 1574 Harvey Ave Kelowna, BC

Please respond by April 15 if you will be attending this informative session. 

There is no cost other than the dinner which is not mandatory to attend. The presentations will likely get underway around 6:30 so plan to be there a bit earlier if you're not expecting to attend the dinner. There will be a sign up sheet at the session for you to register and for credit tracking.

Space is limited so book now. Please pass this on to other applicators and companies that would benefit by this session. 

Friday, 28 February 2014

Online Survey: assistant applicator licence

The Government of BC is currently proposing revisions to the Integrated Pest Management Act and Regulation. Under the current legislation, one certified applicator can supervise up to four uncertified individuals. The revisions propose: 
  • requiring that all people applying pesticides to public land, rights-of-way, forest land or on a fee-for-service basis be trained;
  • removing the provisions allowing uncertified applicators to apply pesticides under the supervision of certified applicators, and;
  • establishing an assistant applicator category that may perform some, but not all, of the duties of a certified applicator.
They are interested in soliciting feedback on these proposed revisions, specifically from services licensees and authorization holders that would be affected by these changes.
The survey has now closed and the ministry is compiling the results. When they are available we will post them to this site.

Monday, 9 December 2013


The Ministry of Environment recently sent out an intentions paper asking for responses to  proposed changes to the current IPM legislation for BC. The recommendations in that paper were not part of the sensible science based decisions from the Special Committee on Pesticides. It appears that virtually the entire report from the committee was ignored in favour of an Ontario style IPM.  The IEPMA responded along with other pest management groups that the proposals as written will put BC on the brink of a full pesticide ban with the simple elimination of use by applicators.

The position of the IEPMA and other groups has not changed:

- the PMRA is the authority on product safety when used according to the label not the political correctness of the  government of the day.
- the province should implement the recommendations of the Special Committee on Pesticides
- the province should amend the Community Charter to remove the ability of municipalities to further restrict pesticide thereby allowing all residents of BC access to safe approved products
We welcome any opportunity  to work with the ministry on developing sensible science based rules that recognizes the value of the PMRA and balanced Integrated Pest Management legislation.

Click here for the cover letter and the IEPMA submission.