Science-policy forum to explore multiple impacts of systemic pesticides

The David Suzuki Foundation and York University are presenting an important one-day symposium on the impacts of systemic pesticides, Sept. 21, from 9am to 5pm, in the Stong Dining Hall, Stong College, Keele campus.

Attending the symposium will be a cohort of leading scientists from Canada, Europe and the Far East. Symposium delegates will discuss the long-term impacts of systemic pesticides due to the large-scale prophylactic application of these pesticides in agriculture, the significant negative ecological consequences of these chemical agents on biodiversity, and the devastating impact on pollinators.

Adverse impacts have also been documented on a wide range of other organisms in terrestrial, aquatic, wetland, marine and benthic (organisms that live in the lowest level of a body of water, including the sediment surface and some sub-surface layers) habitats. The Government of Ontario, in recognition of these effects, brought in strict restrictions on the use of neonicotinoid insecticides as part of a wider strategy to promote pollinator conservation in the province. Other jurisdictions have followed, including the City of Vancouver, Quebec and France and the federal government’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency has proposed phasing-out one neonicotinoid, imidacloprid, completely.

Among the scientists who will be speaking at the symposium, is York PhD candidate Nadia Tsvetkov (MSc ’14). Her research focuses on the sub-lethal effects of pesticides on honey bee behavior. Along with Tsvetkov’s presentation, delegates will hear from members of the International Task Force on Systemic Pesticides (TFSP), whose ground-breaking research on the impacts of neonicotinoid insecticides has played a significant role in helping to educate policy-makers on the impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides, and the need for alternatives. In addition, the lead authors of two recent high-profile papers published in Science and Nature, Ecology and Evolution on the impacts of neonicotinoid pesticides on wild bees and honey bees will also be speaking at the symposium:

  • Nigel Raine, Rebanks Family Chair in Pollinator Conservation, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph.
  • Jean-Marc Bonmatin, deputy chairman of Task Force on Systemic Pesticides (TFPS), CNRS-Center for Molecular Biophysics (CBM), Orléans, France.
  • Maarten Bijleveld van Lexmond, chairman of TFSP, Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
  • Nadia Tsvetkov, Department of Biology, York University.
  • Elizabeth Long, Department of Entomology, Ohio State University.
  • Elizabeth Lumawig-Heitzmann, secretary of TFSP Public Health Working Group, Marinduque Biological Field Station, Philippines
  • Francisco Sanchez-Bayo, Department of Plant and Food Sciences, University of Sydney.
  • Adrienne Bartlett, research scientist, Environment and Climate Change Canada.
  • Kumiko Taira, chair of TFSP Public Health Working Group, Tokyo Women’s Medical University, Japan.
  • Lorenzo Furlan, chairman of TFSP Working Group on Alternatives, Veneto Agricultura, Centre for Agricultural Research in co-operations with the University of Padua, Italy.
  • Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, Faculty of Agriculture & Environment, the University of Sydney, Australia.
  • Lisa Gue, David Suzuki Foundation.
  • Madame Delphine Batho (former French Environment Minister).

Tickets are $20 each and are available at http://bit.ly/2fyYsvI.

More about the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides

The Task Force on Systemic Pesticides is an independent group of scientists from all over the globe, who came together to work on the Worldwide Integrated Assessment of the Impact of Systemic Pesticides on Biodiversity and Ecosystems. The mandate of the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides (TFSP) has been “to carry out a comprehensive, objective, scientific review and assessment of the impact of systemic pesticides on biodiversity, and on the basis of the results of this review to make any recommendations that might be needed with regard to risk management procedures, governmental approval of new pesticides, and any other relevant issues that should be brought to the attention of decision makers, policy developers and society in general.”

A highly multidisciplinary team of 30 scientists from all over the globe have jointly made a synthesis of 1,121 published peer-reviewed studies spanning the last five years, including industry-sponsored ones. Key findings of the task force have been presented in a special issue of the peer reviewed scientific journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research, titled “Worldwide Integrated Assessment of the Impacts of Systemic Pesticides on Biodiversity and Ecosystems.”

For more information, visit http://www.tfsp.info/.

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