Sunday, January 4, 2009

Tragedy strikes the Travolta family...Toxic cause?

"Eat a low-fat diet, exercise, get mammograms and if you developcancer, get chemo and wear a pink ribbon. In the meantime the expertswill ignore any possible connection between the environment, corporatepollution and women's health." (Source: Barbara Brenner of BreastCancer Action)
January 02, 2009
The Tri-City News
‘Little person’, big impact
By Sarah Payne
NE Coquitlam’s Thelma MacAdam is remembered for her environmentalefforts
Thelma MacAdam treasured her family and worked tirelessly to ensureher kids, and the generations that would come after them, were safefrom pesticides.
The Coquitlam resident passed away in her sleep on Dec. 19, in thehome she loved and protected for nearly 40 years, leaving a legacy ofenvironmental activism that covered not only pesticides butbiotechnology, food irradiation and water and air quality.
MacAdam was born in 1923 and married her husband, Doug, about 20 yearslater; together, the couple raised three children: Byron, Glen andVicki.
In the late 1960s, the family moved to a six-acre spread in northeastCoquitlam, where MacAdam kept bees and tended an extensive garden.
And then one day in the early 1970s, a prop plane loaded with mosquito-killing pesticides swept over their home, garden and orchards,blanketing them with toxic chemicals five times despite MacAdam’srequest to avoid their area.
The following year, the vector control officer announced a blanketspraying of Coquitlam, to be started the very next night on VictoriaDrive, where the MacAdams lived.
MacAdam and her husband flew into action, filling dozens of heliumballoons and tying them on long fishing lines to trees surroundingtheir property. The prop plane flew up to Victoria Drive but didn’tdare come near them.
“She was a very independent-thinking, hard-working person,” said herson, Byron MacAdam. “She was very concerned for future generations,and that’s what really drove her in most of her activities.”
Over the next 25 years, MacAdam successfully lobbied for bans onpesticide use on city property, starting with the city of PortCoquitlam, which enacted its ban in 1984. Several cities followed suitand many are now also banning cosmetic pesticide use on privateproperty.
She joined the Health Action Network Society (HANS), and petitionedall levels of government on environmental issues. She received severallocal, national and international awards and acknowledgements for herefforts.
MacAdam stepped back from her environmental work when her husbandsuffered a serious stroke in 1994; she cared for him until his deathin February 2007.
“I don’t think it was possible for Thelma to detach completely,though, it was a lifetime passion for her,” said Lorna Hancock,executive director of HANS. Hancock met MacAdam in 1982 and said herfriend “never changed” in all those years.
“The balloon story went international and everybody was in shock thata housewife and mother would be that determined,” Hancock recalled.“But she was always accessible, always available, and her purpose wasto educate.
“She had a natural talent for recognizing where people were at,engaging them in meaningful discussion and enabling them to open theireyes to a new way of thinking.”
Longtime friend and fellow HANS member Dorothy Beach said MacAdamdescribed herself as “a quiet little person” but one who made a bigimpact.
“She’s one-of-a-kind,” Beach said. “She’s an absolutely wonderfullady.”
TextNewS.74.20081231172731.file_macadam1c_20090103.jpgThelma MacAdam, a longtime resident of northeast Coquitlam, in a phototaken several years ago. The environmental activist died in her sleepon Dec. 19.tri-city newS FILE PHOTO
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January 2, 2009
Travolta death: Toxic cause?
by Harry Osibin, Sacramento Environmental News Examiner
The cause of death of 16-year-old Jett Travolta, son of John Travoltaand wife Kelly Preston, will not be known pending the results ofautopsy. The family has long since maintained that their first-bornhad suffered from Kawasaki disease, a not well-understood conditionthat was not identified until 1967 by Dr. Tomisaku Kawaski of Japan.The disease is so difficult to diagnose because, according toWikipedia, "There exists no specific laboratory test that can tell ifsomeone has it."
Per a Children's Hospital Boston / Harvard Medical school informationpage on the disease, "Some studies have found associations between theoccurrence of Kawasaki disease and recent exposure to carpet cleaningor residence near a body of stagnant water; however, cause and effecthave not been established."
"Exposure to carpet cleaning" i.e., chemicals, environmental causes ofillness, compounds either natural or synthetic, toxins in ourenvironment: what a can of worms to open!
Kelly Preston had worked tirelessly to monitor her home for chemicalsas a safety measure to protect her children.
So many allergies and illnesses are attributed to "unknown" causeswhen studies have suggested environmental pollution, exposure orpoisoning as legitamate areas for scrutiny. Some NGOs in the healtharena are concentrated solely on cure or treatment or genetics orother causes, not industrial in nature.
Many cancers including breast cancer are blamed (in the opinion ofsome) on everything but industrial chemicals and the like.
Paraphrasing one outspoken activist, Barbara Brenner of Breast CancerAction, "Eat a low-fat diet, exercise, get mammograms and if youdevelop cancer, get chemo and wear a pink ribbon. In the meantime theexperts will ignore any possible connection between the environment,corporate pollution and women's health."
Some argue, of course, that chemical sensitivity is all-in-your mindand that "yuppie syndrome" (Chronic Fatigue) does not exist. Somestill maintain that smoking does not cause lung cancer.
This environmental debate rivals that over climate change.
We have added to our lives so many pesticides, solvents, drugs andother chemical compounds that effect us in ways we cannot know.
The fact is, rare diseases are becoming less rare. Kawasaki diseaseis found most often in Japan. The second-most prevalent country inwhich Kawasaki disease is diagnosed is the USA.
There is an upside and a downside to every techological advance. Thatshould never be forgotten nor hidden for the sake of profit,convenience or expediency.
We all share the sorrow of the Travolta family in connection to theloss of their son. We should share their concern, also.Topics: Environment , Youth , Climate Change , health , Jett ,Travolta , Kelly Preston , Kawasaki
January 2, 2009
Tragedy strikes the Travolta family
by Jennifer Tolento, NY Celebrity Mom Examiner
An unthinkable tragedy has struck the Travolta family whilevacationing in the Bahamas for the holidays, Jett Travolta, the 16-year-old son of actor John Travolta and wife Kelly Preston, diedFriday from a seizure he has suffered at his family's vacation home atthe Old Bahama Bay Hotel on Grand Bahama Island, said Michael Ossi, alawyer for the family, in a statement through Travolta's rep.
The teen hit his head in a bathtub Friday morning and was declareddead at Rand Memorial Hospital, police spokeswoman Loretta Mackey toldthe Associated Press. According to police, a caretaker had found Jettunconscious in the bathroom around 10 a.m. An autopsy is being pursuedto determine the exact cause of death.
Jett, who is the only son of Travolta, 54, and Preston, 46, had ahistory of seizures, according to Ossi. The couple also have adaughter, Ella Bleu, 8. The death was first reported by TMZ.
In 2003 Kelly Preston told Montel Williams that when Jett was 2 hebecame "very, very ill, but it seemed like flu symptoms" before beingdiagnosed with Kawasaki disease, a condition which usually affectschildren from ages 2 to 5, and can cause inflammation of the arteries.This disease is usually treatable but it can lead to lasting heartdamage in rare cases.
Preston, who also said Jett suffered from asthma, blamed householdcleaners, fertilizers and pesticides for creating the condition in herson and tried to enforce a more detailed labeling system on chemicalproducts. She credited a detoxification program based on the writingsof Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard with helping to improve Jett'shealth.
In November Jett joined his dad in Paris, where Travolta has beenshooting From Paris with Love. In 1994 the actor told PEOPLE how muchhe loved fatherhood. "I can't imagine what life would be like withoutJett," he said. "After he was born and cleaned up, I held him forhours while Kelly slept. When they came to take him away for varioustests, I said, 'No, you can't see him today. You'll have to do itanother day.' I went a little nutsy."
I was completely devastated when I first heard the news, as a hugeTravolta fan since Grease, I feel physically ill for the actor, and asa parent I can't even imagine the agony that John and Kelly are goingthrough as well as Jett's little sister Ella Bleu, and the immensepain that the Travolta family will face for the rest of their live-mythoughts and prayers go out to the family.
Sat 03 Jan 2009
The St. John's Telegram
There's no time like now
by Lana Payne
Premier Danny Williams has done something the left in Canada hasstruggled to do in recent years - focus attention on trade agreementsthat rank corporate privileges over the rights of citizens.
The expropriation of AbitibiBowater's access to timber and water cameat a time when citizens everywhere are questioning the world economicorder and the lack of rules governing capital and corporations.
Threats by Abitibi-Bowater to sue the Canadian government because theprovince of Newfoundland and Labrador acted in the public interesthave served to highlight the very real problems with trade agreements.
By taking back the "people's resources" - the water and timber leasesthat had been issued to the operators of the Grand Falls pulp andpaper mill in exchange for industrial development - Williams acted touphold the public interest over the corporate interest.
AbitibiBowater is claiming that its "investor rights" granted underChapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) havebeen violated.
While a big NAFTA fight likely was not the premier's intention, itmost certainly came up in the decision-making. The premier had to knowthat the American-owned and desperate AbitibiBowater would useeverything at its disposal to fight his decision.
Chapter 11 of NAFTA basically allows corporations to sue governmentsif they feel their investor rights have been violated.
Trade expert Scott Sinclair co-ordinates the Canadian Centre of PolicyAlternatives' trade and research project. He notes that since anygovernment regulation or policy can affect property interests, NAFTA'sinvestment rules constrain the fundamental democratic rights ofgovernments.
As of a year ago, there had been 18 investor claims against Canadaunder NAFTA, including three in each of 2006 and 2007. But accordingto the federal government's international trade website, in 2008,under Chapter 11, six notices of intent were launched by corporationsor individuals. One such complaint is by a U.S. corporation againstthe province of Quebec's decision to ban lawn pesticides.
The right thing to do
Despite AbitibiBowater's threats, the province was right to protectthese natural resources. It was right to put the public interestfirst. Once AbitibiBowater decided to pull out of the province, it hadno right to maintain control over the timber and power resources.
In normal times, outrage from members of the business elite and theirmedia friends would have been extreme. Yet there was but a tiny chorusof opposition from the usual suspects - a few business analysts whopredicted the sky would fall and that no investor in their right mindwould ever want to do business in the province.
But these voices were muted and few. This is also a sign of the times.The global financial and economic crisis has changed everything. Ithas challenged conventional wisdom. It has even chastened the usuallyvociferous business elite.
Strange bedfellows
Even the Canadian Council of Chief Executives is calling forgovernment intervention in the face of an economic crisis that hasgovernments around the world bailing out and nationalizing banks andsaving from collapse what were just a few years ago the richestcorporations on the planet.
Gone is the usual chant for governments to stay out of the economyunless it's to hand out corporate tax cuts.
In its December submission to the federal government, Canada's Councilof CEOs called for Ottawa to spend about $15 billion in an economicstimulus program, stating that "governments can afford to increasespending temporarily to blunt the impact of the crisis and put oureconomy back on track toward robust and sustainable growth."
This is a big stretch for the council. But it seems not even itsmembers will dare get on with their usual economic medicine ofcorporate tax cuts and reduced government spending. That's becausemany of them need saving too.
And because they need help, government spending and deficits are nolonger a bad thing. Maybe the times really are a'changing.
Brave new world?
The days of unfettered global capitalism without rules, withoutregulations, without a re-ordering of priorities, ought to be undersevere scrutiny.
The days of leaving everything up to the marketplace, of caving tocorporate power, of bowing at the altar of laissez-faire economicsought to be over.
The pain and suffering being felt by families all over the planet -through no fault of their own but because corporate greed was allowedto grow out of control - ought to be reason enough to change the rulesof the game.
Governments can and should act in the best interests of citizens andthat means protecting natural resources; that means regulating banksand other financial institutions.
It means overhauling the global investment industry. It means placinglimits on executive pay. It means governments must be involved in theeconomy rather than watching from the sidelines.
It means more bold actions - like those taken by the Newfoundland andLabrador government in the case of AbitibiBowater. It should mean arebalancing of priorities where the needs of people are placed overcorporate greed.
We are at one of those times in history where, as a society, we cantake the bold steps needed or we can cave under pressure from thosewho have the most to lose from a new set of rules.
Tommy Douglas once said, "Courage my friends. 'Tis not too late tobuild a better world."
Indeed, it is not. But it will require a heap of courage.
Lana Payne is president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation ofLabour. She can be reached by e-mail at Hercolumn returns Jan. 17.
© 2009 Transcontinental Media G.P. All rights reserved.
Fri 02 Jan 2009
Inside Bay Area
Synthetic fertilizer taints farms
SACRAMENTO -- For up to seven years, California Liquid Fertilizer soldwhat seemed to be an organic farmer's dream, brewed from fish andchicken feathers.
The company's fertilizer was effective, inexpensive and approved byorganic regulators. By 2006, it held as much as a third of the marketin California.
But a state investigation caught the Salinas-area company spiking itsproduct with ammonium sulfate, a synthetic fertilizer banned fromorganic farms.
As a result, some of California's 2006 harvest of organic fruits, nutsand vegetables -- including crops from giants like Earthbound Farm --wasn't really organic.
According to documents obtained by The Sacramento Bee through a PublicRecords Act request, California Department of Food and Agricultureofficials were notified of the problem in June 2004 but didn'tcomplete their investigation and order the company to remove itsproduct from the organic market until January 2007.
State officials knew some of California's largest organic farms hadbeen using the fertilizer, the documents show, but they kept theirfindings confidential until nearly a year and a half after it wasremoved from the market. No farms lost their organic certification.
The nonprofit California Certified Organic Farmers, which certifiesabout 80 percent of the state's organic acreage, decided not topenalize farms that had used the product on the grounds that farmersdid not know they were using an unapproved chemical.
The state could have pursued harsher penalties against CaliforniaLiquid Fertilizer, including violation of the California's organicproduct law, which carries fines of up to $5,000, according toagriculture department spokesman Steve Lyle. It also could havereferred the case to the attorney general's office for civil action asan unfair business practice.
"We did not pursue those courses of action because our priority was toremove the product from the market," Lyle said. "More process wouldhave delayed that."
The investigation took as long as it did, he said, because the casewas complex.
The trouble has continued. In November 2007, the distributor ofanother organic liquid fertilizer, representing about 5 percent of themarket, pulled its product in the middle of another stateinvestigation. Rumors in the industry point to another majordisclosure as soon as this month.
Synthetic fertilizers don't present food safety risks, but the organicmovement has always opposed them because they take a great deal ofenergy to produce, decrease natural soil fertility and can pollutewater.
Above all, the California Liquid Fertilizer case shows how much theorganic regulatory system depends on trust.
Organic farming started with small operations that rejected modernagriculture's huge, chemical-dependent fields in favor of diversifiedplots fertilized with old-fashioned compost, manure and cover crops.
Today, organic farms still do without synthetic fertilizers andpesticides. But much else is radically different.
Sales of organic products have soared from $5 billion nationwide adecade ago to $24 billion today, according to the Organic TradeAssociation.
California accounts for nearly 60 percent of the U.S. harvest oforganic produce.
The biggest organic operations now cultivate thousands of acres andsell to mainstream buyers like grocery chains.
With farms under pressure to cut costs and deliver big harvests,demand has grown for a new class of potent liquid fertilizers thathelp crops thrive.
"Organic agriculture is becoming very dependent on these amendments,"said Thaddeus Barsotti, who runs Capay Organic farm in Yolo County."If you don't use them, and your competitor is using them, you'regoing to suffer," he said.
Liquid fertilizers work particularly well for cool weather crops likestrawberries and salad greens, and market leaders Earthbound andDriscoll's became big customers for California Liquid Fertilizer,according to executives from those companies.
But liquid fertilizers are used on farms producing virtually everyvariety of organic fruit, nut and vegetable. On his mid-sized farm,Barsotti likes to give his bok choy, cabbage and pepper crops anitrogen boost early in the growing season, though he said he neverused California Liquid Fertilizer's products.
As organic farming has gotten big, it also has struggled to maintainshoppers' trust in the integrity of its products.
Most shoppers interviewed at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op andthe Whole Foods Market were a bit cynical about the industry -- andthey weren't surprised to hear that a major violation of organicstandards had slipped through the regulatory system.
"There's a large amount of money to be made as we get more into payingfor the quality of our food," said Emmi Felberg of Plymouth.
As a gardener, Felberg knows it's tough to get concentrated nitrogenfrom true organic sources. She said any farmer ought to be suspiciousabout fertilizers that seem too good to be true.
"These guys are professionals," she said. "If it looks like a chemicaland smells like a chemical, it probably is a chemical."
The state learned of the problems at California Liquid Fertilizer froma whistleblower. In a June 18, 2004, complaint, the former employeealleged that for five years ammonium sulfate had been used in thecompany's liquid fertilizer.
A year later, according to state records, state Department of Food andAgriculture inspector Pierre Labossiere took the first sample ofBiolizer XN, the company's leading product, from Tanimura & AntleInc., an Earthbound Farm partner in Salinas.
Laboratory analysis supported the allegations, and in July 2005,Labossiere asked California Liquid Fertilizer to explain why, therecords show. He never got an answer, and during multiple follow-upvisits to the firm's factory near the town of Gonzales was told thatthe fish and feathers used to make the product were unavailable forsampling.
Over the next year, Labossiere followed up, finding indications ofammonium sulfate in six more samples at farms and fertilizer dealersaround the state. In February 2006, he twice intercepted tank cars ofammonium sulfate in a Salinas rail yard. Receipts showed the liquidhad been shipped to California Liquid Fertilizer from a plant inDecatur, Ill.
California Liquid Fertilizer's then-president, Peter Townsley, did notrespond to repeated phone calls from The Bee or to a written requestfor comment.
Labossiere had caught the fertilizer maker red-handed. But the productremained on the market for nearly six more months before stateofficials took action.
The state had other things to worry about that fall. In September, anoutbreak of a deadly strain of E. coli was traced to Salinas Valleyspinach packaged by the parent company of Earthbound Farm. For weeks,national news media scrutinized the government's oversight of theproduce industry.
In January 2007, the agriculture department agreed to a settlementwith Townsley that removed his product from the market but kept thereasons obscure. The violation was recorded as "improper labeling." Ina letter to the Eugene, Ore.-based nonprofit Organic Materials ReviewInstitute, which had approved the product for use on organic farms,Townsley said he was pulling the product because of an inadvertentchemical substitution.
The outcome of the case surprised Dave DeCou, the Oregon institute'sexecutive director. State investigators had contacted him forinformation about Biolizer.
"I was expecting (the state) to come out with some kind ofindictment," he said. "My sense was that they didn't want to haveanother dirty mark on California agriculture."
Per pound of nitrogen, synthetic fertilizers like ammonium sulfate andurea cost as little as one-twentieth as much as approved organicsources like ground- up fish carcasses.
"If you could take urea and sell it organic, you could make a lot ofmoney," said Jim Coburn, marketing manager for Western Farm Service, amajor agrochemical retailer.
Under federal standards, the nitrogen in a fertilizer for organicfarming must come from a natural source. But standard laboratoryanalyses used by organic regulators tell only how much nitrogen is ina fertilizer, not where it came from.
More sophisticated chemical-isotope tests can give an indication - -though not definitive proof -- of a fertilizer's origins, said SamMyoda, executive vice president of IEH Laboratories, near Seattle.
Myoda has been hired both by fertilizer makers wanting to prove theirproduct genuine and big growers that want to make sure they aren'tbeing duped. In tests this past year, Myoda said, he has found that anumber of fertilizers sold to organic farmers show signs of being fromsynthetic sources.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture decides what materials may be usedon an organic farm, and the state agriculture department plays a rolein keeping the industry honest -- mainly by investigating complaints.
But the review of specific brands of fertilizers, pesticides and so onfalls mostly to the Organic Materials Review Institute, which isfederally authorized to evaluate organic farming products.
That approval process, though, is based on information submitted bymanufacturers. In the case of California Liquid Fertilizer, thefertilizer investigated by the state had been certified by theinstitute, but the company hadn't been truthful about what itcontained, state documents show.
The Organic Materials Review Institute does investigate complaints andnow gives special scrutiny to fertilizers, according to spokesmanMiguel Guerrero. But each year the organization routinely inspectsonly about a dozen of the 570 companies whose products it certifies.If it finds a violation, the institute can withdraw certification, butit lacks the authority to pursue stiffer penalties.
The state Department of Food and Agriculture, by contrast, can issuefines as well as tell manufacturers to remove products from themarket. Spokesman Lyle said staff members recently have stepped upoversight of the organic fertilizer sector. In 16 inspection visitssince February 2007, officials have found only minor violations, hesaid.
Though the state forced California Liquid Fertilizer to pull itsleading product, Townsley stayed in business at the Gonzales plant. InJanuary 2008, the factory was sold to Converted Organics Inc., apublicly traded fertilizer maker headquartered in Boston. Townsley isnow a technology officer for Converted Organics. His base salary is$200,000 a year.
=============================Warning Industry Propaganda Below=============================
December 17, 2008Robert BilyeaSenior Policy AdvisorMinistry of the EnvironmentIntegrated Environmental Planning Division Strategic Policy Branch135 St. Clair Avenue West, Floor 11 Toronto Ontario M4V 1P5EBR Registry Number: 010-5080New General Regulation under the Pesticides Act, 1990 to implement theCosmetic Pesticides Ban Act, 2008.
Dear Mr. Bilyea:
This response to the above EBR posting represents the voices of 45,000Ontarians. We are submitting these comments on behalf of AGCare(Agricultural Groups Concerned About Resources and the Environment), acoalition of 17 different farm organizations that represents Ontario’s45,000 crop and horticulture growers environmental issues likepesticide use.
Our members include Christian Farmers’ Federation of Ontario,Federated Women’s Institute of Ontario, Flowers Canada (Ontario) Inc,Ontario Bean Producers Marketing Board, Ontario Beekeepers’Association, Ontario Canola Growers’ Association, Ontario CornProducers’ Association, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, OntarioFlue-Cured Tobacco Growers’ Marketing Board, Ontario Fruit andVegetable Growers’ Association, Ontario Potato Board, OntarioProcessing Vegetable Growers, Ontario Seed Corn Growers, Ontario SeedGrowers’ Association, Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association,Ontario Soybean Growers, Ontario Apple Growers and Ontario WheatProducers’ Marketing Board.
AGCare was formed 20 years ago to promote responsible pesticide useand pesticide safety training for farmers. The Grower Pesticide SafetyCourse (GPSC) became mandatory under the provincial Pesticides Act andwe continue to promote and support this important training initiative.
Ontario’s farmers strongly support the banning of unnecessary andirresponsible use of pesticides. As proud environmental stewards whocare deeply about the health of our families, livestock and land, weknow how important it is to use pest control products safely andresponsibly. However, the regulations as currently proposed willaffect our ability to farm in an environmentally responsible mannerand be globally competitive.
We have the following specific concerns with the regulations as theyare posted on the EBR.
1. Contradictions and a lack of scientific basis
There is a noticeable lack of scientific criteria behind theseregulations. Specifically:
• No scientific criteria for the classification of pesticides inClasses 5 – 11.
• No criteria or explanation for the reasoning behind why specificproducts have been included on the “prohibited” list
• Sports fields can be treated with pesticides if they are hosting“national” events but not for local events
• Naturally-occurring products including such toxics as arsenic,mercury and lead are deemed to be “safe, whereas low toxicitysynthetic products are considered to be “unsafe”
• Outdoor plants can be sprayed if they are brought indoors firstThe regulations as posted on the EBR also mean that Ontario’s farmerswill be collateral damage in the fallout over the ban. Due to the lackof scientific criteria, members of the public will not understand therationale behind which products have been banned and which have not –especially when there is no explanation as to why some products thatare banned for cosmetic use are allowed to be used in food production.
2. Lack of independent expert review
OPAC, a committee of the Ministry of the Environment, studiesfederally-approved products and organizes them into schedules todetermine who can access which products. The new regulations precludeindependent expert review since they remove the ability of the expertcommittee – OPAC – to review and report on ALL submissions forclassification. Under the proposed regulations, OPAC now reports tothe Director, who has the power to overrule any of the committee’srecommendations and decisions prior to going to the Minister (withoutfurther independent review).
As well, a considerable amount of extra responsibility is given to theDirector under the new regulations, but there is no requirement thatthis person has a scientific background and understanding of issuessurrounding pesticide use equal to that of the members of OPAC.
If health and safety are important in Ontario, then OPAC should havethe power to make final decisions on which products may be used inwhich situations by which applicators and determine what trainingrequirements are necessary. OPAC’s role therefore demands highstandards of scientific competence from its appointed members, as wellas independence from government or any other groups during thedecision-making process.
OPAC should continue to report directly to the Minister and itsmembers must continue to be appointed by Order in Council.
3. Loss of public confidence and global competitiveness
The current provincial approach of banning certain products overridesfederal law and directly contradicts the extensive knowledge of HealthCanada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). This sendsconfusing and contradictory messages to the public, which has thepotential to impact consumer confidence in the safety of ourenvironment, water and food supply – as well as in our federal systemof registration, monitoring and compliance.
PMRA’s science shows us that pesticides can be used safely, if labelinstructions are properly followed. No pesticide products are approvedfor use in Canada until they meet the PMRA’s strict safetyrequirements and the PMRA is recognized internationally as a leader inpesticide safety assessment. In fact, the Pest Control Products Act(PCPA) was updated in 2006 to reflect current, internationalscientific knowledge and risk assessment methods for the health andenvironmental safety of pesticides.
The ban will directly affect the competitiveness of Ontario farmers inthe global marketplace. American farmers have access to a wider rangeof pesticides than those here in Canada, and it simply makes economicsense for the developers of pesticides to have their products approvedin the US due to the greater market size. Provincial bans on federallyapproved products create regulatory uncertainty for these developersand we anticipate reduced investment in product approval in Canada.This puts our farmers – already struggling in a competitive globalenvironment – at a disadvantage compared to their internationalcounterparts.
4. Definition of agricultural land
The proposed regulations define farm land as that which is zonedagricultural under the Assessment Act. However, there is a lot of landthat is currently being farmed that does not fall under thatclassification. This includes land that might be zoned for developmentor future commercial use, or falls into a rural residential category,for example.
It does not make sense for some farm land to be exempted from thecosmetic ban and some not, based simply on its assessmentclassification. We are therefore proposing it be defined as all landthat is under active agricultural management and production, includingland that is not zoned agricultural under the Assessment Act.
5. Rural lawns and gardens
Lawns and gardens in rural areas are not the same as those in urbanareas. Controlling weeds, insects and other pests throughout a farmproperty is not a “cosmetic” matter. Pests are controlled on farm orneighbouring rural properties in order to ensure they don’t negativelyimpact crop yields and quality or livestock health on the farm. Ifthere is an infestation or other problem in a rural garden or lawnthat happens to be next to farm land, it can easily spread to thoseadjacent fields.
Farmers who are trained and certified to use pesticides responsibly ontheir farmland are also capable of applying these skills when usingpesticides – often the same ones – on other areas of their farms, suchas their own lawns and gardens. Again, since these uses are not“cosmetic” in nature, and controlling pests is important to the farmoperation, they should also be exempt as agricultural use.
6. Lack of training
In Ontario, farmers must be trained and certified under the GrowerPesticide Safety Course (GPSC) before they can purchase or usepesticides. Agricultural pesticides are only sold by vendors who arecertified though the Pesticide Vendor Certification Course. Bothfarmers and vendors must re-certify every five years to keep currenton advancements in pest management science, safety and regulations.
Since the GPSC came into effect, farmers have voluntarily reducedtheir pesticide use by 52% due to advancements in education and thescience of pest management (Food Systems 2002, Ontario Ministry ofAgriculture, Food and Rural Affairs). It is important to note thatthese reductions did not come as a result of any product bans orrestrictions but through voluntary actions by farmers.
The proposed regulations contain no training requirements for domesticpesticide users. As well, there is no requirement for domesticpesticide product users in classes 5,6,7,10,11 to prove competence inbeing able to read and understand a pesticide product label in eitherEnglish or French, take any training in proper handling, use andstorage of these products or be able to properly calibrate a sprayer.There is also no requirement that licensed applicators must re-certifytheir pesticide safety training on a regular basis the way farmersmust.
We ask that the government delay the implementation of the regulationsto more thoroughly review the science and get it right.
We are also asking for changes to some specific areas of concern toagriculture:
• Exempt pesticide use on farm/rural lawns and gardens. Pesticide usein these areas is not cosmetic due to the potential for spread ofinfestations and problems to neighboring farmland• Revise the definition of farm land to mean all land that is underactive agricultural management and production. The definition shouldnot be based on the Assessment Act.• Maintain the independent review powers of the Ontario PesticideAdvisory Committee and have that committee continue to report directlyto the Minister
We are highly concerned about the lack of science behind the proposedregulations. If we as farmers are to successfully meet the challengeof producing food for a growing world population, we will need everytool available to us. This includes the safe and responsible use ofpesticides so that we can continue to feed not only ourselves butothers around the world.
Agriculture is a significant part of the Ontario economy. As farmers,we are proud of our roles as food producers and as environmentalstewards and we want to be sure of our future in the rural landscape.
Richard Blyleven Paul WettlauferChair, AGCare First Vice Chair, AGCare
CC: Clay Switzer, Chair, Ontario Pesticide Advisory CommitteeHon. John Gerretsen, Minister of the EnvironmentHon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier of OntarioHon. Leona Dombrowsky, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Best Blogger Tips
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St. John's Daily Spray Advisory

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 (St. John's) - Final - 10-01-2002 - 253 words
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 Paradise

Government lax on cosmetic pesticide regulation: advocate
The Telegram (St. John's) - 08-28-2004 - 613 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 the province will ban cosmetic use

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 (St. John's) - 09-04-2005 - 496 words
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 (St. John's) - 07-16-2006 - 781 words
Judie Squires - health of your families. When Canada's most respected health authorities tell us pesticides threaten our health, we should all be listening. Judie Squires writes from Portugal Cove-St. Philip's

Inquiry implicates BTk
The Telegram (St. John's) - 06-24-2006 - 353 words
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 (St. John's) - 06-24-2006 - 833 words
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 (St. John's) - 03-14-2009 - 419 words
pesticides. Please join me in lobbying our province for a pesticide ban Judie Squires Portugal Cove...

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