Resolution 1-19: Loss of 2% Liquid Strychnine

Resolution 1-19

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT ALBERTA’S AGRICULTURAL SERVICE BOARDS REQUEST Health Canada and the Pest Management Regulatory Agency reconsider their decision and leave 2% Liquid Strychnine on the market available on a permanent basis to agricultural producers to utilize on their farms for control of Richardson’s Ground Squirrels.

Response:

AGRICULTURE AND AGRI-FOOD CANADA

On behalf of the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, I wish to acknowledge receipt of your correspondence to her predecessor, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, and the enclosed copy of the Agricultural Service Board’s “Resolution 1-19:  Loss of 2% Liquid Strychnine”.

As you may know, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has completed a consultation on strychnine and associated end use products in order to make a decision on its’ future use.  I have taken the liberty of forwarding a copy of your correspondence to the Office of the Honourable Ginette Pettipas Taylor, as this matter falls under her jurisdiction.  I am certain that Minister Pettipas Taylor will give your concerns every consideration.

HEALTH CANADA: PEST MANAGEMENT REGULATORY AGENCY

Thank you for your correspondence of February 11th, 2019, addressed to the Honourable Ginette Pettipas Taylor, Minister of Health, regarding the proposed re-evaluation decision to cancel the use of strychnine for the control of ground squirrels. The Minister has asked that I respond on her behalf.

In Canada, pesticides are regulated federally under the Pest Control Products Act, which is administered by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). Our number one priority is to protect the health and safety of Canadians and their environment, including non-target wildlife.

Before a pesticide is allowed to be used or sold in Canada, it must undergo a rigorous scientific assessment process to determine that the health and environmental risks of using the product are acceptable, when used according to label directions. In addition, Health Canada periodically re-evaluates pesticides that are on the market to assess whether they continue to meet the Department’s health and environmental standards and hence whether they should continue to be permitted for use in Canada. Health Canada will take regulatory action at any time should unacceptable risks to human health or the environment be identified.

As you are aware, Health Canada published a proposed re-evaluation decision, PRVD2018-13: Strychnine and Its Associated End-use Products (Ground Squirrel Use), in June 2018. This document proposed to cancel the use of strychnine for ground squirrel control due to risks of concern for non-target organisms, including species at risk. As indicated in this document, multiple lines of evidence (risk assessment based on available information, incident reports, information from provinces including information generated through the Integrated Pest Management Committee) indicated that risks of concern for non-target poisonings continue to occur with the use of strychnine. Reliance on strychnine may not be sustainable in the long-term due to the lack of practical mitigation measures to protect non-target organisms.

During the consultation period, several comments relating to the proposed decision were received from the Canadian public and stakeholders, including Agricultural Service Boards, and are currently under review.

Once Health Canada has considered all of the comments and information received from stakeholders and members of the public, a sciences based approach will be applied in making a final decision.

Please note that there are alternatives to strychnine as mentioned in the consultation document:

  • chlorophacinone and diphacinone (multi-feed anticoagulant baits);
  • zinc phosphide (non-anticoagulant bait);
  • aluminum phosphide (fumigant); and
  • white mustard seed powder and sodium alpha-olefin sulfonate (foam).

Should you have further questions regarding pesticides and the federal pesticide regulatory system, please contact the PMRA by telephone at 1-800-267-6315 or by email at pmra.infoserv@hc-sc.gc.ca.