Tuesday, December 23, 2008
No to herbicides...And More
Pesticide drift causes concern, angst in Fla. town
By TAMARA LUSHHASTINGS, Fla.For decades, life in this tiny town revolved around the spud.
Residents swore that when they bit into a potato chip, they could tellwhether the tuber was grown in Hastings. The high school football teamwas dubbed "The Spudsters." A sign posted at the city limits stillproclaims, "Hastings: Potato Capital of Florida."
But Hastings, population 607, isn't so certain of its identity thesedays. The verdant rows of potatoes have shrunk, replaced with Chinesecabbage, sorghum grain and sod grass. There are new homes, too, boughtby folks who work in nearby St. Augustine but couldn't afford a housethere.
Some of those newer residents cherish the slow pace of life inHastings, yet are troubled by one of its pastoral mainstays: farmlandpesticides. A debate has simmered for two years over whether chemicalssprayed on crops have drifted into the air near the new elementaryschool.
"Before, people were kind of left alone to do what they wanted to do,"said Johnny Barnes, owner of Johnny's Kitchen, one of the town's fewrestaurants, which serves heaping, tasty portions of locally grownfoods such as okra and purple cabbage. "But that's changing."
Pesticide drift has become a politically and emotionally charged issuefrom the blueberry farms of Maine to the apple orchards of Washingtonto the fields in Hastings, Fla. Farmers fear that any restriction ofpesticides could jeopardize their industry, while some of their newneighbors worry that breathing the chemicals may cause healthproblems.
Complicating the matter: the risks of chronic, low-level exposurehaven't been definitively studied. Short-term problems, anti-pesticideactivists assert, can include headaches, eye irritation and breathingproblems. They say longer-term problems may include asthma, cancer andbirth defects.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency's Web site, "Thedrift of spray from pesticide applications can expose people,wildlife, and the environment to pesticide residues that can causehealth and environmental effects and property damage." Yet thepesticide residue that ends up somewhere other than crops can vary involume and be based on weather, rain and soil conditions - even if thechemicals are applied properly.
Similar conflicts have played out across the country.
In Washington state, monitoring stations were set up at certain appleorchards to measure whether pesticide sprays are drifting toward homesor schools. In September, a Santa Cruz, Calif., jury awarded anorganic herb grower $1 million in damages after deciding a pesticidecompany violated the farmer's rights when its chemicals drifted withthe fog onto his crops. And in Maine, some homeowners near blueberryfarms are urging state officials to prohibit aerial application ofpesticides within 200 feet of homes, buildings and public roads.
The schism in Hastings began in December 2006, when two area highschool students tested the air near South Woods Elementary School fora science project. The eight-day test found levels of four pesticidesthat were sprayed on nearby cabbage fields.
The students and a handful of residents asked the Pesticide ActionNetwork North America - a group that opposes the use of such spraysand chemicals - to test again. The group found levels of the samechemicals in the air in the spring of 2007, including three substancesthat are or will soon be banned in Europe. The local school boardsponsored a probe, which found nothing.
PANNA tested the same location again in the fall of 2007 and in areport released in September 2008, said that "distressing" levels ofthe same four chemicals were detected in the air near the school.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency and the Florida Departmentof Agriculture and Consumer Services are reviewing the latest PANNAreport. "So far, data available to the Agency concerning levels ofpesticides in homes or children's bodily fluids are limited andinconclusive, and do not demonstrate that children in agriculturalareas receive significantly more non-occupational exposure thanchildren in nonagricultural areas," wrote Dale Kemery, spokesman forthe EPA in Washington, D.C.
Doubts and bad feelings linger in this once-tight community.
There are people like Sarah Barker, a five-year resident who livesacross the street from the elementary school and next door to acabbage farm. She allowed the students and the PANNA group to placethe pesticide drift catcher in her yard. She is worried about smellingthe chlorine-like odor of the pesticides.
"Hastings is not that concerned about stuff like this," she said. "I'dlike to move but I don't think I'd be able to. I don't see how I couldsell my home in good conscience."
There are also people like Wayne Smith, a third-generation Hastingsfarmer and pesticide dealer who feels that liberal environmentalistsfrom outside of town are trying to meddle in local issues.
"I've been mixing pesticides since I was 5 years old," said Smith."That's part of who I am. I'm healthy. All of this is about peoplewanting to move into a community and change it."
Chris Barnes - a farmer and Johnny Barnes' cousin - acknowledged thatthere's usually an acrid smell of pesticide in the air. But it's notharmful, he insists.
"No farmer wants anything to happen to the kids in the school, or toanyone, for that matter," said Barnes. "We've been here since the 50s,or longer. This is our way of life."
Karl Tupper, staff scientist of the San Francisco, Calif.-based PANNA,said the students and a few community members asked for assistance.
"We've never barged into a community and said, 'This is what we'regoing to do,'" he said.
Hastings resident Chris Southard also lives near the cabbage farm. His10-year-old son is in the fourth grade at the neighboring school, yetSouthard is skeptical of the health hazard posed by pesticides.
"I've lived here all my life and pesticides have never affected methat I know of," he said. "There's never been any conclusiveinformation that it's harmful."
David Dinkins, director of the St. Johns County Agriculture ExtensionService is hoping to win a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grantfor a "good neighbor" program to help foster better relations betweenfarmers and residents and promote organic growing methods.
After the pesticide drift tests, "the farmers were upset, they felt itshowed them in a bad light," Dinkins said. "They are very diligent intheir pesticide safety and use. Their families are around all that,too."
No to herbicides: watershed councilApril 16, 2008 - by Jacqueline Lawrence
For the second time in a row, Hydro One has failed to obtain MuskokaWatershed Council support for its request to apply herbicides todistrict road allowances.
During a meeting Friday, the watershed council passed a resolutionstating its opposition to a Hydro One request to apply the herbicideRoundup to approximately 1,000 kilometres of district roads thatsupport hydro lines.
Hydro One said the herbicide would reduce its brush-clearing costs andpotentially improve power reliability across Muskoka.
The request was the second time the power company made a bid to applya chemical herbicide to local road allowances. Last year, Hydro Onesought approval to use Garlon 4, a toxic herbicide that controlsdeciduous trees, in Muskoka. The request was turned down by districtcouncil due to environmental concerns by the watershed council.
Council members felt Garlon 4 posed too great a risk to fish andaquatic plants, should it ever enter the water.
This time around, the watershed council based its decision on the factthat Hydro One’s use of Roundup is not entirely necessary. AlthoughRoundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate, is considered only moderatelytoxic, council members felt Hydro One could conduct its brushing-clearing work without it.
“What (we’ve) generally said is, if you’re going to use a pesticide,glyphosate is likely not too bad,” said Judi Brouse, Muskoka’sdirector of watershed programs. “But the watershed council’s policyposition is we don’t support the non-essential use of pesticides. Thefeeling, quite strongly, has been that Hydro One did not make the casethat it’s an essential use.”
Until such a case is made, the watershed council will remain opposedto the idea, she said.
A letter will be sent to Muskoka district council informing it of thewatershed council’s position, she added.
Bracebridge district councillor Scott Young, however, expressedconcern that the watershed council was playing “cat and mouse” withHydro One over the issue.
Young noted that the watershed council has clear policies on the non-essential use of pesticides. It should not give Hydro One anyindication that it will remain open to the idea, he noted.
“We should base our position on those . . . policies and leave it atthat,” said Young.
Pesticide debate continuesFebruary 27, 2008 - by Jacqueline Lawrence
Hydro One is continuing its push to apply herbicides to district roadallowances in Muskoka, but skepticism remains about the safety ofRoundup, the product the power company wants to use.
Muskoka Watershed Council members on Friday expressed concern aboutthe environmental impact Roundup could have should Hydro One bepermitted to apply it to the approximately 1,000 kilometres ofdistrict roads that support hydro lines.
“If there is any other means (of reducing brush) other than using anherbicide, use it, regardless of cost,” Bracebridge districtcouncillor Steve Clement said to John Bowen, Hydro One programsofficer.
Clement and others appeared to maintain their original position thatMuskoka should not sanction herbicide use on its roads. In 2007, thedistrict, on the advice of Muskoka Watershed Council, rejected asimilar request by Hydro One to apply Garlon 4 to road allowances.Watershed council members said the toxic herbicide posed too great athreat to aquatic life should it enter local watercourses.
That decision, however, continues to impact Hydro One’s operations inMuskoka, Bowen claims.
According to Bowen, Hydro One’s inability to use herbicides onmunicipal road allowances in the district has resulted in anovergrowth of brush around its electrical lines that ultimatelyaffects reliability. The power company spends more on forestryclearing in Muskoka than in any other municipality in Ontario, hesaid.
“We have more vegetation-caused outages in Muskoka than anywhere elsein the province,” said Bowen. “If you don’t apply herbicides, everyyear the problem gets worse and worse.”
Applying herbicides will free up more resources, allowing Hydro One tobetter deal with power outages, he indicated. The company, he added,will use an “integrated pest management” approach that includes brushcutting to limit its use of the product.
Bowen stressed that Roundup is safe to use. A research scientist withthe Great Lakes Forestry Centre in Sault Ste. Marie has said HydroOne’s integrated pest management plan is “environmentallyresponsible,” Bowen said.
“Everything we do has some sort of environmental impact. This is goingto have one of the very least.”
Some council members, however, were reluctant to sign off on Bowen’sstatements.
“We can get experts from all over the world to say whatever we want,”said watershed council member Ken Black. Black suggested Hydro Onehire a third party agency to conduct an arm’s- ength study on Roundup.
Lake of Bays councillor Ben Boivin agreed. Boivin said he continues toworry about statements in Roundup’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)that indicate the product is “practically non-toxic.” According to theMSDS of Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup, the active ingredientin the herbicide is glyphosate. Glyphosate is considered moderatelytoxic to aquatic life such as rainbow trout, and slightly toxic toavian life such as quail and ducks. The MSDS said the chemical ispractically non-toxic to honey bees and earthworms.
Like Black, Boivin suggested Hydro One prove the safety of theproduct.
“The proof is in the pudding and that’s what we’re looking for,” hesaid.
Judi Brouse, Muskoka’s director of water programs, said she is stillstudying both sides of the debate. “It’s a challenging issue becausethere are arguments on both sides,” she said. Brouse is expected tomake a final recommendation to Muskoka Watershed Council on HydroOne’s request sometime in April.
Muskoka to re-consider Hydro One herbicide useFebruary 13, 2008 - by Jacqueline Lawrence
Hydro One is making another plea to apply herbicides to municipal roadallowances in Muskoka.
The request came before Muskoka’s planning and economic developmentcommittee Thursday, almost one year after district council turned downthe power company’s original request to use Garlon 4 around its hydrolines to reduce brush conditions and improve hydro restoration timesduring outages.
Muskoka Watershed Council members said Garlon 4 presented too manyenvironmental risks as it could negatively impact aquatic life if itentered the water.
This time around, Hydro One is asking to apply Roundup, a moderatelytoxic chemical herbicide that is “extremely safe” for the environment,said John Bowen, Hydro One programs officer.
“It’s not poisonous. . . . It binds to soils and it’s not toxic tobees or worms,” Bowen told councillors last week. “It’s a commonagricultural product.”
According to Bowen, Hydro One’s inability to use herbicides onmunicipal road allowances in Muskoka has resulted in an overgrowth ofbrush around its electrical lines. The power company spends more onforestry clearing in Muskoka than any other municipality in Ontario,he said.
“It causes us some major inconveniences,” Bowen told councillors lastweek. “Costs, the outages, and the restoration times are all impactedby the brush.”
Bowen said applying Roundup to the estimated 1,000 kilometres ofdistrict road allowances supporting electrical lines will reduce HydroOne’s brush clearing costs, and in turn, allow it to place moreresources into restoring power during large scale outages.Councillors, however, were reluctant to grant Bowen’s request withoutlearning more about the herbicide product.
“I have a problem with the phrase ‘practically non-toxic,” said Lakeof Bays councillor Ben Boivin, quoting Bowen’s remarks about Roundup’seffects on honey bees. “It’s a bit of an oxymoron.”
According to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) of Monsanto, themanufacturer of Roundup, the active ingredient in the herbicide isglyphosate. Glyphosate is considered moderately toxic to aquatic lifesuch as rainbow trout, and slightly toxic to avian life such as quailand ducks. The MSDS said the chemical is practically non-toxic tohoney bees and earthworms.
Bowen stressed that Hydro One workers are “extremely careful” whenapplying the product. Workers use backpack sprayers to apply theherbicide only to the stump of cut trees. They stay at least threemetres away from any surface water, and at least 15 metres away fromreservoirs or wells, he said.
Still, district chair Gord Adams said he preferred not to sign off ona product that could potentially harm the environment.
“Here in Muskoka we’ve spent millions on our improving our waterquality,” said Adams. “The MNR has said our lakes are pristine ….We’dlike to keep it that way.”
Adams went on to note that even if council allowed the application ofRoundup, Hydro One cannot promise the herbicide will improve hydroreliability in Muskoka.
Although the power company’s brush-clearing costs are high, Adams saidthat is the price the Hydro One will have to pay to do business in thedistrict.
“When you come to me and say this is an issue of cost, frankly, Idon’t care,” said the district chair. “That’s the hill you have toclimb. It may be expensive but it’s worth it. To us, it’s worth it tomaintain the environmental standard.”
While they, too, had concerns about the product, Muskoka Lakescouncillor Nancy Thompson and Huntsville councillor George Young saidthey were willing to compromise. Thompson suggested testing Roundup ona small plot of land.
Young, meanwhile, said overgrown power lines are clearly “notconducive to a high quality power supply.”
“I for one would be happy if my power would stay on longer,” he said.
Bracebridge councillor and planning committee chair Scott Youngsuggested forwarding Hydro One’s request to Muskoka Watershed Councilfor investigation.
Muskoka Watershed Council is slated to discuss the issue Feb. 22.This article has been viewed
Cosmetic use of pesticides could be bannedFebruary 6, 2008 - by Laura MacLean
The provincial government is currently seeking public comment tointroduce legislation that could put a ban on the cosmetic use ofpesticides in Ontario by spring of this year.
The ban proposal was posted on the Ministry of Environment’s websiteon Jan. 18 and comments can be submitted until Feb. 17.
According to the website, the ban would apply specifically to lawns,private gardens, parks and school yards and would focus on “smalltowns and cities, not on restrictions for rural residents.” Farminggrounds and golf courses would be exempt from the legislation, as thewebsite states that Ontario farmers already have stringent rules onthe storage and application of pesticides and golf courses would berequired to develop plans to reduce the environmental impacts ofpesticides.
The government would ensure that pesticides, which includesherbicides, insecticides, fungicides, or combinations of any of these,could still be used in situations where they are warranted to ensurepublic health such as fighting the West Nile Virus, and the focus ofefforts will be on outreach and education on alternatives topesticides on lawns.
Jon Snelson, a member of the Local Enviromental Advisory Forum (LEAF)as well as a past member of the town’s environmental advisorycommittee, said he is “most definitely” looking forward to thelegislation being implemented.
“(The ban of pesticides) was an item we (the environmental advisorycommittee) proposed to the town about two years ago,” he said. “Atthat time, town council decided to not act on it. . . . Why? I’m notentirely sure. Our main conclusion was the health issues associatedwith the use of cosmetic pesticides.”
LEAF founder Don Baker concurred with Snelson, saying, “I think it’san excellent idea for the province to move forward. I did, in fact,speak to John Tory about this last week. I asked him what his positionwas and I explained my thinking on it.”
While Baker does not want to “put words into John Tory’s mouth,” hestated that they exchanged viewpoints, and Tory was “more or less” inagreement with his thoughts on the matter.
“In my own opinion, pesticides do have a use and are functional for anumber of reasons,” said Baker. “But the problem is, we use them toofrequently and easily when there are other ways of dealing withproblems. Here’s an example. All the research that I’ve done says thatthe only way to deal with a poison ivy infestation is with pesticides.I have also been told the only use the District of Muskoka usespesticides for is poison ivy infestations.”
LEAF has representation and voting rights on the town’s environmentcommittee, the mandate of the group is to promote responsibleenvironmental policies affecting the municipality of Huntsville. Oneof the main issues LEAF was pushing for prior to the government’sannouncement of banning the cosmetic use of pesticides was a municipalpesticide bylaw.
Baker said last summer, he and Mary Jane Fletcher, who chairs theenvironment committee, drafted a municipal pesticide bylaw, which wasjust starting to get looked into when the election was called.
“One of the things that was on the McGuinty platform was a pesticidebylaw,” noted Baker. “We put our ideas on hold to wait for theoutcome of the election and to see where things would be going in thatregard. Nothing happened.”
Fletcher also said she views the proposed bylaw as a good thing.
“It’s great because it takes the onus off of the municipality and allmunicipalities will be dealing with the same guidelines,” she said.“It’s so different from municipality to municipality, (and) this willmake it a lot clearer.”
When asked how the bylaw would be enforced, John Steele, aspokesperson for the MOE, said, “I don’t think we know right now.We’re in the process of consulting with those who would be affected bythe legislation and it would be premature to discuss that at thistime. At this stage there’s nothing to report.”
Steele did indicate that 40 per cent of municipalities in the provincecurrently have a ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides, with the Cityof Toronto being one of them
“The issue here is is the use of cosmetic pesticides reallynecessary?” asked Steele, adding that this past November, thegovernment already committed to a toxins reduction strategy to helpeliminate potentially harmful environmental toxics. “We, being theMinistry, are required to look at the environmental bill of rightsprocess, and that requires us to talk to all Ontarians about theproposed ban.”
Comments that are received prior to Feb. 17 will be considered as partof the decision-making process by the MOE if submitted in writing orelectronically using the form provided on the website(www.ebr.gov.on.ca) and reference EBR registry number 010-2248.
Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller told the Forester last week thathe supports the reduction in the use of pesticides for cosmetic uses,but would have to see the legislation before voting for or against theproposed ban.
“Obviously in area like this where water quality is probably one ofthe important concerns, then any actions we take to improve ormaintain the quality of our water make sense,” he said.
Town backs up district’s position on herbicide useJuly 25, 2007 - by Allyson SnellingAn information item on the public works committee agenda at thebeginning of the month quickly became an opportunity for Gravenhursttown council to get on the herbicide bandwagon.
Earlier this year Muskoka district councillors were asked to considerallowing Hydro One to apply Garlon 4, a toxic herbicide that controlsdeciduous trees, pine and broadleaf weeds, to local road allowances inorder to assist Hydro One with brush-clearing costs.
In April the Muskoka Watershed Council concluded the application ofthe herbicide could pose a threat to the local environment.
District council subsequently denied Hydro One’s request to use Garlon4 on approximately 600 kilometres of road allowances in Muskoka.
“I think we should take this one step further,” said Mayor John Klinckin proposing the committee pass a similar resolution to deny the useof Garlon 4 on Gravenhurst road allowances. “Instead of having therequest come to the town and have our staff do their due diligence, Ithink we should take a stand that we don’t want that type of product,that is more than slightly toxic, used on our road allowances too.”
Dave Saunders, manager of public works and operations for the town,told the committee a request did come from Hydro One. He said it wasconveyed to the utility that the town of Gravenhurst would go with thepositions of the district of Muskoka and Muskoka Watershed Council.
“Does this tie our hands on removing brush?” asked committee memberBob Colhoun.Saunders replied that Garlon 4 is not used for municipal purposes.
Committee member Lou Guerriero said products containing Garlon 4 like“Roundup” are available to the general public and are equally asdangerous. He said the herbicide should not be used near any lake.
The committee unanimously approved a resolution advising Hydro Onethat the town of Gravenhurst does not support the use of Garlon 4 onGravenhurst road allowances.
With files from Jacqueline Lawrence
Sat 20 Dec 2008
The Newcastle-upon-Tyne Journal
Pesticides under pressure ; LEGAL VIEW Farming
by WILLIAM GREEN
PRESSURE is growing on the use of pesticides in the UK from twodirections. The first is proposals being developed in the EuropeanParliament.
The Agricultural Council reached political agreement last June on acompromise text that will undoubtedly place greater restrictions onthe development of new products and further restrict (and, in someinstances, make unavailable) the use of current products.
The European Parliament's Environment Committee approved in earlyNovember new criteria to halve the use of toxic products by 2013 and afinal vote will take place very shortly.
The second pressure, which has only recently emerged, comes from theremarkable campaign of Georgina Downs. Most farmers had never evenheard her name until November of this year.
Miss Downs, almost single-handedly, brought an action against Defrabefore the High Court last month and placed very substantialadditional pressure on the British Government to rethink its policy onpesticides.
Complaining that, since 1984, her home in the countryside had beenexposed to crop spray drift when the farmer in her neighbourhoodsprayed the crops, she listed symptoms including ill health, sorethroats, blisters and headaches. She complained that by 1991 herhealth had deteriorated to such a degree she was temporarilyhospitalised.
Eventually deciding that these symptoms were caused by her exposure topesticide spray, she began a campaign to change the approach ofgovernment. After seven years, Miss Downs - now 35 and described byher friends as a "pesticide nun" for devoting her life to her campaign- made a case in the High Court based on her objections to Defra'sapproach to spraying control.
At the High Court Mr Justice Collins said Miss Downs had produced"solid evidence that residents have suffered harm to their health"from crop spraying close to their homes.
His ruling stated that the Government had failed to comply with aEuropean directive to protect rural communities from the possibleharmful effects of exposure to toxic chemicals.
The judge said "defects" in Defra's approach to pesticide safetycontravened a 1991 EC directive and that Environment Secretary HilaryBenn "must think again and consider what needs to be done".
Without commenting on pesticide safety, it is still clear thatsquaring the circle of the continuing demand for increased foodproduction while further restricting the use of the products thatenable that production to increase will certainly provide a headachefor Government and growers for some time to come.
William Green is a partner in the countryside team at North law firmWard Hadaway.
==========================Warning Industry Propaganda Below==========================
November 5, 2008
The impact of municipal pesticide legislation on farmers - sixquestions for CropLife president Lorne Hepworth
With more and more municipalities across Canada banning the cosmeticuse of pesticides, is agriculture next on the anti-pesticide lobby hitlist? A leading crop protection industry advocate shares hisperspective
As the debate over the cosmetic use of pesticides rages on throughoutCanada with no clear end in sight, many producers are wondering aboutthe impact of these decisions on their ability to use pesticides forcrop protection.
As president of CropLife Canada, a leading advocate for the cropprotection industry, it's Lorne Hepworth's job to keep his finger onthe pulse of who is influencing who in this debate and how they aredoing so. He's concerned that, in spite of the fact that Health Canadahas declared 2,4-D safe if used correctly, emotionally chargedrhetoric is taking the place of sound science in the court of publicopinion. And with over 140 bans and restrictions on cosmetic pesticideuse currently in place across Canada, he's concerned that restrictionson pesticide application in the farm sector will be the naturalevolution of this approach.
Canada Sprayer Guide recently interviewed Hepworth, who offered astate of the union on the municipal banning of pesticides in Canada,his perspective on how food producers will be affected, and thecommunication challenges he says the crop protection industry and itspartners face in order to inform the public that the manufacturers,legislators and users of crop protection products are acting in aresponsible manner. Key to this, he says, is emphasizing the role ofHealth Canada in safeguarding the public's interests before productseven hit the market.
"Health Canada already does a very stringent risk/safety assessment onthese products. There's something in the order of 200 tests that ourcompanies go through in order to get a registration from HealthCanada," he says. "What we find at some municipal councils is thatthere are some activist councillors driven by ideology as opposed togood science in terms of public policy in this area. It's almost likethey go out of their way to make sure that Health Canada's storydoesn't get told."
Following is an abbreviated version of our discussion with LorneHepworth.Inside:
1. A state of the union 2. The role of CropLife and Health Canada 3. Risks to producers
4. Next steps for industry 5. Are farmers next? 6. A complete ban?
1. What's the status of jurisdictions banning pesticides in Canada?How many have banned them to date and how many are in the process?
Our best understanding is that there's something in the order of 140"bans" and restrictions in place across Canada. They take variedshapes and sizes and a lot of different approaches. It's a realpatchwork quilt, not only across individual provinces but in terms ofdifferent municipalities in different provinces. As a result you windup with a real hodgepodge because they make their own rules on the flyabout what should be banned or what shouldn't be banned or what wouldbe permitted or when it would be permitted to be used. Whether they'reall in full implementation I couldn't say. What they do is they get aby-law passed and then allow typically three years before it's fullyenforced.
The one exception to that, which is very problematic, is in Ontario.The Province is putting in legislation on banning cosmetic pesticideuse. On the one hand (this legislation) pre-empts municipalitiesacross Ontario from doing bans and restrictions. Notwithstanding thefact that we still view that as unnecessary legislation in the firstplace, if there is going to be legislation at least it eliminates thispatchwork quilt approach across Ontario.
The Province is allowing for less than one year (before enforcement),contemplating it becoming effective next spring. That's pretty hardfor the independent retailers and the industry to react to given thelead times involved in manufacturing and managing inventory.
The other thing is municipalities cannot ban sale. The Ontariogovernment, in addition to banning use, is also looking at banningsale. So municipalities would ban certain uses and maybe only allowcertain uses, but they couldn't ban sale, so you had this incongruoussituation. But if you went down to the local garden store you couldstill buy all the products.2. What's the status of CropLife's campaign to counter this?
What we try to do is be a source of information and facts regardingthe safety of pesticides and the regulation that occurs in Canadaaround pesticides. That largely means working with other alliedindustry associations and user groups, including the golf coursefolks, vegetation right of way people, farm organizations, and otherindustry associations such as the Canadian Consumer Specialty ProductsAssociation and 2,4-D Task Force.
We work with them on advocating and informing councillors about a.)why these products are needed and b.) that, by the way, Health Canadaalready does a very stringent risk/safety assessment on theseproducts. We find most don't know about the role of Health Canada.That's true as well for the average public. They don't know the PestManagement Regulatory Agency at Health Canada has over 350 health andenvironmental professionals, toxicologists, biologists, environmentalscientists and other PhD type folks whose job every day is to examineand determine the safety of these products.
One of the points we make is that the legislation that Health Canadaoperates under is probably the most modern and rigorous in the worldbecause it was just modernized in 2002 and became enshrined inlegislation in 2006. There are additional safeguards for children, forthe unborn, and for other vulnerable populations. The precautionaryprinciple is now enshrined in legislation. A lot of people say we needto take a precautionary approach but guess what? That's already partof the regulatory approach here in Canada.
There's something in the order of 200 tests that our companies gothrough in order to get a registration from Health Canada. We have todemonstrate through all this testing and assessment that there is nounacceptable risk to the public or the environment as a result ofproper use. The DuPonts and the Dows and the Bayers and the BASFs havebeen in business for many, many years. Our member companies have nointerest in putting products on the market that aren't safe for use.
A lot of people think, "Well, how do these companies do these tests?"Under this new legislation there's provision for what is called the"reading room." Any citizen can go in and look at test data and judgefor themselves whether the companies are somehow not reporting theresults of tests or assessing the tests accurately. It's a verytransparent system. There's provision in this new legislation for aspecial review if you think Health Canada screwed up.
These are undertakings that can cost companies millions and millionsof dollars, but we went along with all this in the new Act because weshare the same objective as everybody else out there. Whether thesepesticides are used on my farm, on my lawn or my garden, we don't wantthe public or the environment at risk either.
What we find at some municipal councils is that there are someactivist councillors driven by ideology as opposed to good science interms of public policy in this area. It's almost like they go out oftheir way to make sure that Health Canada's story doesn't get told.There will be hundreds of people that come and make delegations beforecouncils but very rarely is Health Canada asked to come forward andhave councillors ask them, "Do these things cause cancer or not?" andlet them give the answer. We believe a local municipality or city canplay a role in educating and providing information to citizens on safeproper use and using them in the context of integrated pestmanagement.3. What is the bottom line threat to food producers, and by extensionfood consumers, of municipal decisions to ban pesticides?
This issue could very much be the thin edge of the wedge. That's ahuge concern to us and I would submit it should be a huge concern tofarmers and consumers. It gets back to why we use pesticides in thefirst place. In the urban landscape, they have several important uses,a lot of which people don't always realize.
A lot of this debate gets focused on cosmetic areas like having a nicehealthy lawn or nice healthy playing field. But there are otherimportant urban uses for pesticides that get overlooked such ascontrolling rodents that might jeopardize the safety of food suppliesin restaurants and hospitals and nursing homes. There's the publichealth risk from West Nile virus - pesticides are used to controlpotentially disease carrying mosquitoes.
That's on the urban side. On the farm side, the one that people mostclearly and easily recognize is the role of pesticides in foodproduction. What we're talking about there, if you don't havepesticides, is the impact on yields and the quality of the foodproduced. If you jeopardize those two things, you jeopardize theability of Canadian farmers to do what they've always done so well andthat is to provide consumers in this country with safe, affordable,nutritional foodstuffs. And I would underline that "affordable" piecethis very day because you hear a lot about rising food prices and foodshortages across the world.
Now we're blessed in Canada. Our food prices notwithstanding, risingcommodities because of the exchange rate and all that stuff havelargely been mitigated here in Canada. But if you start withdrawingour ability to manage that 30 to 40 percent of our crops that might bethreatened if you didn't have insecticides and fungicides andherbicides, food prices go up, yields go down and who gets hit thehardest in that scenario is some of the poorest and most vulnerable inour communities.
The second thing at stake, the bigger issue at stake in some ways withall this foolishness going on by people that should be demonstratingmore leadership, is science based regulation. I have to take issuewith the Canadian Cancer Society, who are a highly regardedorganization, over this fearmongering tactic they're using of goinginto various provinces and cities and holding news conferences andsharing with the public polling figures such as "75 percent of thepublic are of the view that we should ban pesticides on lawns." Thatpolling is probably accurate if that's the question you ask. But theydon't go so far as to provide information about how Health Canadaregulates pesticides and that these products can be used safely iflabel directions are followed.
The day we start formulating public policy in the area ofenvironmental and public safety based on polls instead of science is avery sad day in this country for good public policy. That's what's atrisk here: emotion, public perception and polling trumping goodscience.
We accept these products should be regulated. We accept there can begreat benefit but that there's risk involved. That's why we have tohave a regulatory agency. But the day you start abdicating science,then our developers and researchers who are developing the newer andsafer technologies don't know what the rules are.
The Cancer Society is saying we should minimize any possible risk tohuman health and the environment from the use of pesticides and thatthere is no beneficial value to using them on your lawn to, forexample, control weeds. The trouble with that argument is this. The2,4-D that is used on my lawn is the same 2,4-D that is used on thefarm. It brings into question the issue of a double standard. Whatthey're saying for you homeowners is that we don't want you to haveany risk of cancer, so we'll ban these products. But for you farmers,because you're involved in a more noble enterprise, we'll let you havea higher risk of cancer.
I don't subscribe to that. All citizens in this country deserve theirhealth to be protected. If there's a known risk, we shouldn't use itanywhere. That's the approach Health Canada takes and that's theapproach we take. This stuff is either safe to use on a lawn or it'snot and it's either safe to use on a farm or it's not.4. What does the industry need to do next?
Obviously, we haven't been as successful as we'd like in combating allof these by-laws and that speaks to the fact that maybe we have to doa better job of communicating the safety of the products. But giventhat so many in the public don't realize and recognize that HealthCanada does this massive safety assessment, we would encourage HealthCanada, not in any way to be a shill for the industry or its products,but to step up to the plate in an even bigger way than they have doneand tell the public what they do.
We also have to do a better job in getting the message out about thebenefits of these products. There are lots of people who believe(pesticides) don't have any role in urban landscapes. That's until, aswe've seen in Toronto here, some bug comes and tries to wipe out allthe trees. Or until some sports field is so infested that kids aregetting injured because it's just like hardpan out there. Or there'ssome rodent infestations in restaurants. A lot of people don't realizethat probably the biggest use of pesticides in this country is inchlorinating city water supplies. We've got to do a better job ofgetting the benefits message out than we've done in the past.5. You've said farmers are next. Give us your sense of currentthinking on this.
As I said before, we're very much concerned that this debate is thethin edge of the wedge. Every time you have this discussion in thepublic about the lack of safety in pesticides and how there needs tobe a municipal ban, it further stigmatizes the farmer and the foodproduction system that's using these pesticides in a very responsibleand safe fashion.
You start to say, "Oh Hepworth, you're overstating it, you'refearmongering now just like you accuse the Cancer Society of doing."But I would submit as evidence the conference the Canadian CancerSociety Web site is hosting this fall examining the question ofpesticide safety in agriculture (Editor's note: details on thisconference are available here). And I'm all for that if there's goingto be some good science brought to bear on the issue and not morepolling and fearmongering. If there is a legitimate concern, we wantto know, our companies want to know, the regulators want to know.
So we see this as a very real and tangible concern that to allow thislack of science to prevail in the regulation of pesticides could veryeasily spill over and affect farmers as well as consumers in thiscountry and, in fact, around the world given that we tend to be abreadbasket for much of the world.
The other dynamic playing out in the international media is thetragic, sorry and sad stories on food shortage in many of thedeveloping economies. In that scenario what comes to the forefront isthe benefit of the technologies of the members I represent, whether itbe their pesticides or biotech. We are part of the solution in meetingthese world challenges in providing safe, affordable and nutritiousfood. We're not the solution but we're part of that solution.6. As a follow-up, is there even a chance crop protection productscould be banned completely?
I would hope not, for sure. But if you look at what's happening inEurope these days, there are measures and regulatory changes that takethese levels of restrictions to new levels and in some instancesoutright bans. It's going on at new and higher levels than one wouldever have thought. So all of this bears watching, but I'm hoping atthe end of the day that science will prevail and be more fullyacknowledged.
Despite all of what I've said about this great job that Health Canadaand regulatory agencies from around the world do, at the end of theday an individual can say, "Hepworth, I don't really care. I don'tlike you guys. I don't like your products. I don't trust HealthCanada. I don't trust the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Idon't trust any of those guys." And that's the great thing about thissystem and this world. The individual still has the choice not to usepesticides. But similarly, those who have an insect invasion on theircrop or on their lawn should have the right and the choice to use aHealth Canada safety-assessed, registered product.
Author: Jeff Melchior
Meristem Information Resources Ltd.12 - 3109 Palliser Drive SWCalgary, Alberta, Canada T2V 4W5Phone: (403) 543-7420Email: email@example.com
http://www.canadasprayerguide.com/special_reports/2008/sr_2008_01.php Blog Gadgets
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My Past Articles
More enforcement needed for pesticide spray regulations
The Western Star (Corner Brook) - Final - 10-01-2002 - 413 words
Karen Griffin - Judie Squires says someone needs to patrol the companies that spray residential areas for pesticides because she's observed nine violations of the Environmental Protection Act in her Paradise neighborhood alone…
Spray woes: Province falling down on monitoring pesticides
The Telegram (
Judie Squires - environment to become poisoned? A temporary ban on all residential pesticides has to be put into place, to protect us, our wildlife and our environment as a whole. Judie Squires
Government lax on cosmetic pesticide regulation: advocate
The Telegram (
Stokes Sullivan, Deana - Despite increased awareness about adverse health effects from pesticides, Judie Squires, a member of the Pesticide Working Group of
Woman doesn't expect cosmetic pesticide ban any time soon
The Western Star (Corner Brook) - 08-30-2004 - 712 words
Stokes Sullivan, Deana - Despite increased awareness about adverse health effects from pesticides, Judie Squires, a member of the Pesticide Working Group of Newfoundland and Labrador, isn't optimistic that the province will ban the…
Province lagging behind in pesticide control
The Telegram (
Squires, Judie - it to do is to prohibit the cosmetic use of synthetic pesticides altogether in order to protect our citizens and the environment. Judie Squires writes from Portugal Cove-St. Philip's…
The two sides to pesticide use
The Telegram (
Judie Squires - health of your families. When
Inquiry implicates BTk
The Telegram (
DEANA STOKES SULLIVAN - of trees. The live spores can be inhaled by humans and animals exposed to BT. Judie Squires, secretary of the Northeast Avalon Group of the Sierra Club, says despite claims that…
Delayed pesticide laws 'disappointing'
The Telegram (
DEANA STOKES SULLIVAN - at the end of this year. These products will only be sold to certified dealers. Judie Squires, secretary of the newly formed Northeast Avalon Group of the Sierra Club, isn't…
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Time for provincial lawn pesticide regulation
The Telegram (
pesticides. Please join me in lobbying our province for a pesticide ban Judie Squires Portugal Cove...