Cosmetic pesticide ban: what does it mean for the gardener?
The City of St. Catharines and the province of Ontario may both pass
laws this year restricting the non-essential use of pesticides. Nearly
half of Canada’s population is already covered by similar restrictions
which aim to reduce the health risks associated with these chemicals.
Various studies point at increased cancer rates and other health
issues associated with chemical pesticides. Young children are
especially susceptible from hand-to-mouth contamination as they
explore the world around them. Some very common pesticides that will
no longer be permitted for domestic use include the herbicides 2-4-D,
mecoprop and dicamba (found in Killex and Weed and Feed) and
glyphosphate (Round-Up), as well as the insecticides diazinon and
carbaryl (found in many insecticide products). Once the ban goes into
effect violators may face fines.
Environmental benefits aside, a pesticide ban limits the methods
available for dealing with common garden problems like a bug
infestation or a lawn full of dandelions. Environmentally conscious
gardeners have been asking for alternative products for years. This
increased demand has made many organic pesticides not only available,
but economically viable.
So here then is a summary of products that you can use when the
restrictions start being enforced. Commonly accepted safe pesticides
are orange while brand names are in bold type.
One word of caution, just as with their chemical counterparts, how you
apply organic products can determine the difference between success
and failure. Read the label and use these products according to their
Organic Methods For Dealing With Bug Problems
Soaps such as Safer’s Insectical Soap are contact sprays that disrupt
the insect’s cell membrane leading to death. Soaps are effective
against many insects including aphids, spider mites and mealybug.
Apply at first sign of problem and repeat weekly for 2 or 3 times and
thereafter as required.
Pyrethrins are a natural insecticide derived from the painted daisy.
They are found in insecticidal soap products such as Safer’s Trounce
and Safer’s End-All or aerosols like Doktor Doom. They control many
insect pests including, aphids, mealybug, whitefly, spider mites and
scale (applied at the crawler stage). Apply at first sign of disease
and again 10-14 days later if required. Pyrethrins are biodegradable
but avoid using near ponds and streams as they are toxic to fish.
Ferric Phosphate is effective against slugs and snails. Safer’s Slug
and Snail Bait is harmless to pets and any undigested bait breaks down
into the soil.
Mineral oil is used to kill over-wintering insects on trees. The oils
must be applied in early spring before the leaf buds open and when
there is no risk of frost. Mineral oil can be used alone (Green Earth
Horticultural Oil) or in combination with lime sulphur (Wilsons
Dormant Spray Kit) to control insects and disease. Horticultural oil
is also used to control Euonymus Scale in the growing season. Apply to
cover all parts of the plant. Another product that works in a similar
way is Safer’s End-All. It is made with canola oil and is useful
against Euonymus scale.
Nematodes are nature’s most abundant life form and these microscopic
worms are found all over the world. The two species of interest to the
gardener are Heterorhabditis bacteriophora and Steinernema
carpocapsae. These feed on many soil pests like grubs and surface
pests like webworms respectively. Nematodes, available under the name
Grub Busters or Lawn Guardian, are harmless to people and pets, as
well as beneficial creatures like worms. They are easy to apply using
a hose-end sprayer. Because nematodes are a living organism be sure to
pay attention to the storage and usage directions on the package.
While used mainly for pest control in the lawn, Grub Busters or Lawn
Guardian are proving effective against many other pests as well
including Iris borer, leaf miner and thrip.
Silicon Dioxide or diatomaceous earth, is sold as many different
insecticides including Green Earth Insect Dust. It can be used indoor
as well as outdoors to control many insects. Can also be applied as a
barrier against slugs around susceptible plants like Hostas.
BT Bacillus thuringiensis is packaged in several formulations
including Safer’s BTK which is used to control many types of
caterpillars on and crops and ornamentals as well as in Aqua-Bac which
is used to control mosquitoes by killing their larvae in standing
water. It is considered very safe to use since it has little or no non-
Boric acid or borax is most commonly found in ant bait preparations
like Wilson’s Antex.
Neem oil is derived from a tree native to India. Target Neem is
available as a spray or concentrate. While is doesn’t kill insects
directly it interferes with their life functions like feeding and
breeding and so controls pests indirectly. Another benefit is that it
affects only insects that ingest plant tissue, sparing nectar eaters
like bees and butterflies. Plus it has been shown to have fungicidal
Pheromone traps use a scent based lure to attract and trap beetles and
wasps. Safer’s Japanese Beetle Trap should be placed 3 metres away
from the plants to be protected. To keep wasps away from outdoor
entertainment areas place Scotts EcoSense Yellow Jacket Traps away
from these areas. While very effective, these lures may actually
attract these pests to your garden so if you don’t have a problem,
avoid using them.
Safer’s Sticky Strips are bright yellow plastic cards coated with an
adhesive. These attract various flying pests such as fungus gnats,
thrip and whitefly. The bugs get trapped in the adhesive.
Organic Methods For Dealing With Fungal Problems
Sulphur is available in a powdered form (Safer’s Sulphur Dust), and in
a liquid spray (Safer’s Defender). It is used primarily to control
mildew, black spot and rust on ornamental plants as well as scab on
fruits. Apply at first sign of disease and repeat at 10-14 day
intervals as required.
Copper Sulphate which is sold under the name Bordo is used to control
disease and fungus organisms on plants. It is effective against
blight, leaf spot as well as peach leaf curl, anthracnose and other
Combination Insecticide / Fungicide Products
Roses and some other ornamentals often attract more than one type of
problem such as a combination of Aphids and Mildew for example. There
are some products that deal with both issues. Safer’s 3in1 spray is
both an insecticide and a fungicide.
Organic Methods For Dealing With Weeds
Corn gluten meal is a byproduct of corn processing that was discovered
to have herbicidal properties in the 1980s. It works by preventing
germination of seeds. Environmental Factors Turf Maize is effective on
various lawn weeds including crabgrass and dandelions when applied as
a pre-emergent control in spring at around the time the Forsythia
bloom, and again in fall. Apply at least six weeks before or two weeks
after over-seeding. Corn gluten meal breaks down as organic nitrogen
(10-0-0) which is an added benefit for the lawn. Environmental Factors
Turf Maize contains 98% corn gluten, and is registered as a weed
control. Corn gluten meal products with fillers added are beneficial
as a fertilizer, but do not have the same weed suppressing properties.
Acetic Acid (Scotts Eco Sense) is a non-selective (kills everything
green) contact (must be sprayed on foliage) herbicide for use on
driveways, patios and in gardens. It acts quickly and controls many
weeds. Avoid using in lawns except as a shielded spot spray to control
perennial weeds and avoid spray drift on desirable plants or
Soap containing fatty acids like Safer’s Topgun is a non-selective
herbicide for use on driveways, patios and in gardens. It acts quickly
and controls many weeds. Avoid using in lawns except as a shielded
spot spray to control perennial weeds and avoid spray drift on
desirable plants or surrounding turf.
A final note:
Many of the above problems can be dealt with using common sense
cultural practices. If you see an infection on a plant cut it out
before it spreads and then monitor the plant to see if a pesticide is
needed after. Keep the grass thick with regular applications of
fertilizer, infrequent but deep watering as needed, aeration and
mowing high. This deters weeds. Hand-pull weeds before they become an
infestation. Try to determine what the problem is before you spray. If
you’re not sure bring a sample in to one of our experts for
As long as you’re going green, consider buying a re-usable sprayer and
getting concentrated organic products. Most types mentioned come in a
concentrated form. This not only saves you money. It saves on
The City of Toronto has a great resource page on their web site with
many fact sheets outlining cultural practices and organic alternatives
Staff from the Niagara Region will be hosting a Smart Gardening
seminar at Broadway Gardens on April 16th, 2009 from 7:00 to 9:00pm
Rice Road Greenhouses and Garden Centre Ltd
1361 Rice Road
RR # 2
Welland, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Pesticide Use Linked to Increased Risk in Parkinson's Disease
Pesticide exposure may increase the risk of Parkinson's disease in
some people. Individuals at increased risk appear to be those with
certain genes that may make them particularly susceptible. These
findings, published by scientists in California and Florida in the
journal Environmental Health Perspectives, reported that individuals
with high levels of pesticide exposure due to residence or occupation
who have certain genes were at a 300 to more than a 400 percent
increased risk for being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
Led by Beate Ritz from UCLA, the researchers compared 324 patients
with Parkinson's disease with 334 people without the disease who were
living in rural California communities. They compared the groups with
respect to the occurrence of specific gene patterns known to be
associated with dopamine levels or processing. Dopamine is a
neurotransmitter that is closely tied to motor functioning that is
impaired in individuals with Parkinson's disease. Investigators also
collected data on exposure to maneb and paraquat -- specific
pesticides commonly used in agriculture. This was accomplished via
questionnaires about occupation and by geocoding residences
(determining the latitude and longitude of a residence) and comparing
that with known areas of pesticide use.
Noted was a gene -- dose effect between genes and exposure wherein
individuals with more gene regions suggesting suseptibility and
increased exposure to pesticides via occupation and/or address of
residence were at the highest risk for Parkinson's Disease.
The Living the Science Clean & Green Marketplace includes hundreds of
products including organic food and infant formula as well as
thousands of other non-toxic alternatives to most everyday products.
Warning Industry Propaganda Below
Feb 26, 2009
The Telegraph Journal
Group concerned by ban on pesticides
It's interesting that in the wake of polling results from the anti-
pesticide contingency not a single story has reported the results of
the provincial government's online polling on the matter.
That polling showed the majority of New Brunswick residents do not
support a ban on either the use or sale of pesticides and they believe
the existing regulatory processes adequately protect both human health
and the environment.
What is needed - certainly more than polling figures - is an honest
exploration of the facts, something activists are failing to do as
they campaign to eliminate pesticides from Canadian cities.
Before any pesticide can be sold in Canada it must undergo a
comprehensive scientific review and risk assessment by Health Canada.
Through this process pesticides receive a greater breadth of scrutiny
than any other regulated product.
Last year Health Canada released the findings of an extensive review
of 2,4-D. The review concluded "risks to homeowners and their children
from contact with treated lawns and turf are not of concern."
CropLife Canada is concerned about the assault on pesticides. How
long, we wonder, before the anti-pesticide crusaders turn their
attention to agriculture? The agricultural use of pesticides
contributes significantly to ensuring Canadians have access to an
affordable and abundant supply of grains, fruits and vegetables -
foods that are important contributors to life-long health. CropLife
Canada believes decisions regarding our health and environment are
important and that they should be made based on defendable scientific
evidence. We hope New Brunswick residents will agree.
President, CropLife Canada
February 24, 2009
Kelowna Capital News
To the editor:
With all due respect to the great work that The Canadian Cancer
Society does, my conscience will not permit me to leave their and Ms.
Kiely’s opinions unchallenged. (Best to Keep Away from Pesticides,
Feb. 8 Capital News)
It bothers me that her statements are so generalized and look to me to
be somewhat unsubstantiated. With admitted little research to the
effects of herbicides and pesticides and links to cancer she is
willing to support a ban on their use because they “maybe, can, might
or could” cause us all to die of cancer.
The chemicals she fears have been developed under close scrutiny to be
safely applied for specific problems and she really doesn’t have real
evidence to the contrary. Better safe than sorry does not address the
bigger picture as to why these products were developed in the first
place. I fully support safer alternatives but the truth is they don’t
work very well. I believe integrated pest management and education are
the answer, not a ban out of fear of the unknown.
I would like a definition of “cosmetic” because, as someone involved
in farming, I am very aware of the effects of back yard breeding
grounds for pests that have already threatened food crops like
cherries and apples. Does the Ipsos Reid poll consider this or is it
like most other polls where the results are determined by the
I also find it disturbing that she has implied our food producers are
poisoning us with chemical residues and that I don’t have the common
sense or ability to safely apply domestic products to my yard or
I am completely behind increased education and the use of alternatives
and like most people who bear the burden of destroying the environment
and killing family and friends, have been using those alternatives for
years and am always looking for new ones. I have lost friends and
family to cancer but not once has anyone been able to tell me the
I can’t support a ban based on fear and supposition. It’s not as much
that the industry is right but more that you have no proof you are,
but are willing to go to extremes anyway.
It’s been said that when people are afraid the first things they are
willing to sacrifice are freedom and common sense. What should we ban
next? Cometics, lawns, gardens, cars, plastic, concrete. They all have
their bad points and maybe, might ,can cause cancer among other
Bob Everatt, Kelowna
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