Shareholders request that the Board of Directors conduct an evaluation of how the elimination of neonicotinoid based insecticides could impact operations and, excluding proprietary information, disclose the results in a report to shareholders.
Since the introduction of neonicotinoids, there have been concerns that widespread use is contributing to worldwide honeybee disorders, declines of wild pollinators and observed declines of insects overall. The Task Force on Systemic Pesticides (TFSP) mandate was set by the IUCN Resolution WCC-2012-Res-137 to support a comprehensive scientific review of the impact of systemic pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids, on global biodiversity.
The results of this review were published in the TFSP Worldwide Integrated Assessment that determined neonicotinoids persist in the environment, accumulating in waterways, soil and non-target plants, which has led to detrimental impacts on insect populations and overall ecosystem functioning. The TFSP report demonstrates that these impacts were independent of the mode of application and related to the accumulation of these chemicals in the environment.
According to a study published in the April 2019 edition of the Biological Conservation Journal, insect biomass – the sheer collective weight of insects – is declining worldwide by approximately 2.5% annually. The authors of the study outline that we are likely witnessing the largest extinction event on Earth since the end of the Cretaceous period 66 million years ago. As insects form the basis of our food systems, whether as pollinators for crops or sustenance for insectivorous animals, their survival is critical to sustaining the earth’s ecosystems.
According to the UN General Assembly’s Human Rights Council Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, the argument that pesticides are needed to address food insecurity is a myth and the costs associated with their use outweigh the benefits. A study in the March 2017 edition of the Nature Plants Journal found that lower levels of insecticides would result in more production on 86% of farms and no farms would lose production. This research also indicates that 78% of farms would be remain as profitable or increase profitability if less pesticides in total were used. This is largely due to fewer impacts on non-target species who are natural predators of pest species targeted by these insecticides.
Given these developments, regulations and restrictions on neonicotinoid uses have been increasing, the European Union expanded the previous 2013 ban, which forbid the use of neonicotinoids on certain outdoor crops, to cover all outdoor uses of the 3 main neonicotinoids, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, and imidacloprid. Health Canada has proposed bans on the 3 main neonicotinoids due to impacts on aquatic invertebrates resulting from accumulation of these pesticides in water. It is anticipated that there will likely be an overall ban on the outdoor use of neonicotinoids and seed treatments in Canada within the next 3 to 5 years.
These recent regulatory developments are expected to have a material impact on producers and retailers of neonicotinoid insecticides. As a leading provider of crop protection advisory services, Nutrien may be impacted by increased regulations restricting and banning the sale of neonicotinoid products.