Lower Mainland vegetable growers will face a tougher time controlling key pests come 2023 as a result of the federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s cancellation of the registration for chlorpyrifos, a non-systemic organphosphate critical to the control of wireworm and other pests in BC.
Re-evaluation of the chemical, the active agent in formulations of Lorsban and other materials, led to the cancellation of label use in food crops. Product labels must be updated within two years of the decision (by December 10, 2022). The lack of alternatives will see the product allowed for use in canola and garlic until December 10, 2024.
“Health Canada is cancelling outdoor uses of chlorpyrifos except those listed below, due to risks to the environment that have not been shown to be acceptable,” a PMRA statement issued December 10 said.
Remaining acceptable uses include mosquito control, protection of non-residential structures and greenhouse ornamentals, and and control of various beetles including Japanese beetle, elm bark beetle and mountain pine beetle.
While defeating the Japanese beetle, which continues to be present in Vancouver, is in the interests of BC’s agriculture sector, Bill Zylmans of the BC Potato and Vegetable Growers Association says the cancellation of chlorpyrifos’ registration will hurt potato growers and seriously challenge rutabaga and cole crop growers.
“It’ll be detrimental,” he said. “I really believed that PMRA was going to have a little bit more sympathy for BC, in the sense that we don’t have anything else.”
While alternatives may emerge, other provinces still have options they can use to control pests in these crops. Removing tools from the growers’ tool kit at the same time as governments are promoting local food security is counterproductive, he adds.
“It just adds to the expense, when everyone is bellyaching they want cheap food,” he said. “It really makes producing crops that much more problematic, and it’s another way of putting more stress on the table of the potato grower and farmer in general.”