Decline in the sales of pesticides in Quebec in 2018

Chute des ventes de pesticides au Québec en 2018

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For the first time in 2018, the purchase of some pesticides to risk should be the subject of a prescription agronomique

The sales of pesticides have decreased significantly in the agricultural sector in québec in 2018, according to a recent report from the ministry of the Environment and the Fight against climate change (MELCC). Excluding pelleted seed, the total mass of active ingredients sold by vendors registered has decreased by 33 % compared to the previous five years.

Sales of pesticides in the agricultural environment have well-known, according to the authors of the report published a few weeks ago, a fall ” never observed before “. These sales amounted 2018 2 433 tonnes and 927 tonnes less than the previous year. This decrease would be largely caused by the marked drop (approximately 500 tonnes) sales of glyphosate, a herbicide whose use is decried by environmentalists. We note in the document that the main products of replacement of glyphosate and atrazine, another herbicide challenged, they also experienced depressed sales in 2018.

For the first time in 2018, the purchase of some pesticides to risk should be the subject of a prescription agronomic. This was the case as of march 8, for atrazine. The sales of this herbicide decreased for decades in Quebec, but the new regulation appears to have accelerated its demise. It records the sale of only 57 tonnes of atrazine in 2018, is almost 60 % less than the previous year.

And from the 8 of September of the same year, the seeds coated with neonicotinoids should also be the subject of a prescription agronomic. For these, the effect of the rule on sales in 2018 is minimal, since farmers typically buy their seeds in the spring. In addition, the balance sheet of 2018 was the first to record the sales : from September to December, with seed coated of 2.9 tonnes of active ingredient were sold.


This new balance sheet of the MELCC seems to be particularly positive. However, Louise Hénault-Éthier, head of scientific projects at the David Suzuki Foundation and specialist in pesticides, emits few caveats, especially about glyphosate.

The compilation of sales of a pesticide is not necessarily synonymous with its use, because the producers may have reservations, ” she says. In addition, the balance sheet does not include the purchases made online, from one producer to the other, and in another province. “We present in the report a reduction in meteoric sales, but in parallel it has not the entire portrait. In rivers, the concentrations of pesticides continue to increase, according to the latest surveys. “

In the report, the editors of the department recognise the limitations of the exercise, and write even, about glyphosate, ” there is no signal on the field reflects such a reduction in its use “. Ms. Hénault-Éthier goes in the same direction : “The agronomists have not seen a change of practices” in relation to glyphosate before and after 2018.

Risk indicators

The ministry shall each year draw up such a balance sheet from the obligatory declarations of the sellers of pesticides. This document allows you to follow up on the progress made towards the achievement of the objectives of the Strategy phytosanitary québécoise en agriculture 2011-2021. It aims to reduce by 25 % the risk indicators for health and the environment related to the use of pesticides by 2021 compared to the average of 2006 to 2008. The indicators of risk take into account the chemical characteristics of the pesticides, the quantities used and the treated surfaces.

Since 2014, these two risk indicators are decreasing year by year. In 2018, the health was 28 % lower than during the reference period ; one for the environment was 15 % lower. “These results are promising, but it is necessary to wait a few years before to conclude that this downward trend will continue,” write the authors of the report. Once again, these measures do not take into account the seed-coated and are dependent on the caveats listed above.

In the year 2018, there were 1530 prescriptions agronomic products containing atrazine. One hundred and thirty-two agronomists different have signed up, but more than half of the prescriptions (55 %) were filed by 15 agronomists working for a company selling pesticide, we read in the report. “The high proportion of prescriptions made by a small number of agronomists has been brought to the attention of the Ordre des agronomes du Québec (OAQ) for the purposes of follow-up “, note the authors of the balance sheet.

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