Salmon Arm Observer
Pesticide dangers definitely exist
In a recent letter about Salmon Arm’s new pesticide bylaw, a local
lawn maintenance businessperson suggests that “numerous medical
doctors in Salmon Arm have been falsely convinced that lawn and garden
pesticides pose significant health risk."
Referring to me, he states that I have been “exploiting (my) status as
a physician to push (my) personal convictions," using “misinformation”
and “fraud” to create “irrational fear."
He goes on to suggest that city councillors are acting on “personal
bias” in voting in a new bylaw restricting cosmetic pesticide use.
To any readers who have any doubt that pesticides can be harmful, I
refer you to the publicly accessible websites of a) the College of
Family Physicians of Ontario, b) the City of Toronto Public Health
Department, c) Beyond Pesticides (U.S.), d) Physicians for Social
Responsibility (U.S.) or e) the Pesticide Action Network – North
From any of these sources, you can find abundant evidence that
pesticide exposure is clearly associated with cancers, neuro-
developmental problems and birth defects, among other harm.
I have practised in this community and elsewhere for 33 years. My
professional credentials are widely known and freely available. I
helped to found the non-profit Canadian Association of Physicians for
the Environment over a decade ago. I stand – firmly – behind the
science-based contention that pesticides are both ecologically crude
and harmful to human health. Those who believe otherwise are part of a
diminishing minority, primarily consisting of those with a financial
stake in pesticide use.
I urge them, and all citizens, for the sake of future generations, to
learn to creatively live and work in a world freed of these toxic
Warren Bell, MD
February 24, 2009
Salmon Arm Observer
Not convinced about 2,4,D
Health Canada: Record contains holes in terms of health risks.
It is unfortunate that the city is delaying the pesticide bylaw they
wished to have in place this March. I guess they felt their hands were
tied. However, the assumptions Mr. Schneider of Green Velvet Lawn and
Tree Care put forth regarding 2,4,D’s safety because it is approved by
Health Canada are dead wrong.
It took me five minutes to find out on the NYC government website that
it can cause chronic health affects such as Non-Hogkin’s Lymphoma, as
well as reproductive damage and damage to the liver and kidneys. Mr.
Schneider may wish to use this chemical simply because he doesn’t wish
to change or look for another solution, but by doing so I think he is
putting himself, his workers and the rest of us at risk.
Believing that we can rely on Health Canada to protect us is foolish.
They have allowed dentists to put fillings in our mouths for years
that are 50 per cent mercury (they have recently disallowed it for
pregnant women and children under six). Though they have stopped
allowing mercury in the majority of children’s vaccines as of 2003,
they still allow it in the flu, tetanus and hepatitis vaccine. Now,
instead of mercury in our children’s vaccines, they allow aluminum to
be put in them. Seems to be simply a switch from one highly toxic
metal to a less toxic one.
Another industry where they have switched mercury for aluminum is in a
fungicide/ bactericide called Fosetyl-Al, trade name Aliette, made by
the Bayer company (also makes Aspirin). This product is used to
prevent brown spots in turf grass on golf courses, but is also used on
lettuce, broccoli, berry and many other crops. Information from the
B.C. government website advises users to avoid contact with skin, eyes
and clothing. There are numerous adverse health effects attributed to
this chemical. Being that this chemical is recommended for use in an
IPM program, this may be another chemical Mr. Schneider is used to
Fosetyl-Al’s wide use also makes me wonder if it a contributor to the
aluminum being found in Shuswap Lake. Two tributaries, the Salmon
River and the Eagle River (Sicamous) have also been found to have high
amounts of aluminum. There are golf courses and a lot of agriculture
around these rivers. I don’t agree with Mr. Taggart’s reasoning that
it is erosion and freshet that are causing the problem, because these
events were happening before 2004 when the aluminum content was
consistently low. Some new event must be occurring.
Is it better that Health Canada is now allowing the use of aluminum in
many of the same applications where we used to use mercury? We’ll
see, but Health Canada is changing its stand on some of these
chemicals and Mr. Schneider will have to also. In the meantime, I
will be relying on myself when it comes to the decisions I make, not
February 17, 2009
Salmon Arm Observer
Much lacking in testing of pesticides
Re: City delays pesticide ban plan, by Mike Simmons, Salmon Arm
Observer on Feb. 10.
A retired intelligence analyst, I am currently honorary Canadian
observer on the Pesticide Working Group based in Washington, D.C.
Al Schneider, owner of the Green Velvet Lawn and Tree Care, is
mistaken that it takes three to four applications to get rid of weeds
when using corn gluten meal and “ascetic” (acetic) acid – reference to
To be immediately effective these products should be applied in the
early spring, to prevent weed seeds from germinating.
Above all, Schneider is mistaken when he says that Health Canada has
science of its own. Its toxicologists merely examine rat data provided
by the industry. There is only one epidemiologist on staff and no
mechanism to search and review epidemiological (human) studies
No bibliographies of independent data are compiled. If a single report
examined does not overturn Health Canada’s decision, it is put in
On the other hand, information on 1) human neurotoxicity 2) vital
developmental toxicity 3) endocrine (hormone) disruption and 4)
routine dioxin contamination is routinely withheld by the industry
from Health Canada.
Only the “active” portion of 2,4-D is tested. The so-called “inert”
portion that may constitute as much as 99 per cent of the ready-to-use
product is untested and is known to be highly toxic.
Following the label does not reduce the inherent toxicity of this
chemical. There is plenty of independent evidence testifying to 2,4-D
harm. Industry spokesmen’s denial that independent science exists
doesn’t make it go away. On the other hand, the industry’s IPM method
(sarcastically called “improved pesticide marketing”) has been largely
K. Jean Cottam, PhD,
Prominent University and Government Scientists to Speak at National
(Beyond Pesticides, February 24, 2009) NIEHS staff scientist Freya
Kamel, Ph.D., Harvard School of Public Health professor Chensheng
(Alex) Lu, Ph.D., and Wake Forest University’s Center for Worker
Health director Thomas Arcury, Ph.D. will speak as Science and Health
panelists at Bridge to an Organic Future: Opportunities for health and
the environment, the 27th National Pesticide Forum, April 3-4 in
Freya Kamel, Ph.D.
Freya Kamel’s research interests focus on environmental determinants
of neurologic dysfunction and disease, in particular,
neurodegenerative disease. Dr. Kamel and her colleagues at the
National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) of the
National Institutes of Health (NIH) examined the relationship of farm
work-related exposures to subclinical neurobehavioral deficits in
farmworkers. Deficits in neurobehavioral performance reflecting
cognitive and psychomotor function related to the duration of work
experience were seen in former as well as current farmworkers, and
decreased performance was related to chronic exposure even in the
absence of a history of pesticide poisoning. Thus, long-term
experience of farm work is associated with measurable deficits in
cognitive and psychomotor function.
Dr. Kamel participated in work on the Agricultural Health Study (AHS),
a large cohort study of licensed pesticide applicators and their
spouses in Iowa and North Carolina. Using data from the AHS, Kamel
found that use of fungicides and organochlorine insecticides was
associated with increased risk of retinal degeneration, the leading
cause of blindness in adults. Another analysis found that prevalence
of neurologic symptoms was related to moderate levels of exposure to
organophosphate and organochlorine insecticides and fumigants.
The AHS is the setting for a nested case-control study of pesticide
exposure and Parkinson’s disease called the Farming and Movement
Evaluation or FAME Study. In collaboration with Caroline Tanner, M.D.,
Ph.D., at The Parkinson’s Institute, FAME investigated the
relationship of Parkinson’s disease to pesticides and other farm-
related exposures in a population with a well-documented history of
pesticide exposure. The study also evaluated the role of other
environmental neurotoxicants, lifestyle variables and genetic
Chensheng (Alex) Lu, Ph.D.
Alex Lu is an assistant professor of Environmental Exposure Biology at
Harvard University’s School of Public Health, Department of
Environmental Health. His interests focus on the assessment of
pesticide exposure resulting from indoor applications, agricultural
spray drift, parental occupation, or from dietary intake. He would
like to incorporate novel methods analyze the samples or to measure
the exposure. His current research project includes using saliva
samples as an alternative for biological monitoring, using Global
Position Systems to assess children’s time-and-location in relation to
their pesticide exposure, and assessing urban/suburban children’s long-
term exposure to pesticides.
Dr. Lu co-authored, “Organic Diets Significantly Lower Children’s
Dietary Exposure to Organophosphorus Pesticides.” This study,
published in a 2006 issue of Environmental Heath Perspectives, finds
that switching children to an organic diet provides a “dramatic and
immediate protective effect” against exposures to two organophosphate
pesticides commonly used in U.S. agricultural production. “Immediately
after substituting organic food items for the children’s normal diets,
the concentration of the organophosphorus pesticides found in their
bodies decreased substantially to non-detectable levels until the
conventional diets were re-introduced,” says Dr. Lu.
Dr. Lu currently serves as an ad hoc member on the USEPA Federal
Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Scientific
Advisory Panel, and an ad hoc member on the National Institute for
Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) grant peer-review panel.
Thomas Arcury, Ph.D.
Thomas Arcury is professor and research director in the Department of
Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest University School of
Medicine, with cross-appointments in the Department of Epidemiology
and Prevention, and the Maya Angelou Research Center on Minority
Health. He is also Adjunct Professor of Anthropology, Wake Forest
University, and Adjunct Professor of Health Education and Behavior,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Dr. Arcury is also the director of the newly created Center for Worker
Health at Wake Forest University. He describes the Center as a “way to
facilitate the interactions of people interested in occupational
health.” Among other things the center will focus on materials and
circumstances that have the potential of causing illness and disease.
Dr. Arcury is a medical anthropologist and public health scientists
with a research program focused on improving the health of rural and
minority populations. Since 1996, he has directed a program of
research on occupational and environmental health and justice among
the families of immigrant workers in rural communities. This research
program, funded by grants from NIEHS and NIOSH, as well as state
agencies, has examined pesticide exposure, green tobacco sickness,
skin disease, injuries, and food security among migrant and seasonal
farmworkers. He is also involved in a study of the occupational health
of immigrant poultry workers. These projects have been undertaken
within the framework of community-based participatory research. In
addition to empirical studies, this program has developed and
implemented educational programs for immigrant workers and health care
providers to prevent exposures and improve treatment. Finally, he has
worked with advocacy groups to use the results of this research to
change occupational and environmental health regulations.
Attending the Forum
Beyond Pesticides’ 27th National Pesticide Forum, Bridge to an Organic
Future: Opportunities for health and the environment, will be held
April 3-4, 2009 at the Century Center in Carrboro, NC. This national
environmental conference, co-sponsored by Toxic Free North Carolina,
will feature panel discussions, workshops and talks by Jim Hightower,
Baldemar Velasquez and Philip and Alice Shabecoff. Register online,
members $65, non-members $75, students $35.
February 24, 2009
Comox Valley Echo
Award salutes 'Food Not Bombs' group
Council of Canadians to recognize community action efforts Thursday
A group of young people who put action behind their words are having
their good works recognized by the local chapter of the Council of
"Each year the Council of Canadians Comox Valley Chapter presents a
Community Action Award to a local group that has significantly
contributed to the Comox Valley community," said new CoC chair Patsy
O'Brien. "The 2008 award is going to Food Not Bombs.
"This group of young volunteers, supported by donations from Edible
Island Whole Foods and funds from their own pockets, prepares,
transports and serves a hot lunch for the hungry on Sundays in the
The presentation will take place Feb. 26 at the CoC's meeting in the
Seniors Lounge of the Florence Filberg Centre, which begins at 7 p.m.
Past local recipients of the CoC award include: the Valley Greens who
successfully got anti-pesticide by-laws passed locally, and the
Citizens for Quality Health Care who achieved success recently for
their two fully function hospital campaign.
Following the presentation will be a screening of the film "The Dark
Side of the Boom: Canada's Mordor".
"With climate change and diminishing global resources, we are at a
critical juncture for energy policy," said O'Brien. "Now, more than
ever, we need a Canadian Energy Strategy that not only ensures energy
security, but helps us transition to sustainable energy production and
All Canadian MPs received a copy the eight-minute documentary ahead of
US President Barack Obama's visit to Canada. The MPs were also given a
letter, calling on them to oppose any exemption for the tar sands from
a joint climate change pact with the US.
"The stakes are too high for our government to be gambling with our
future, allowing flawed free trade agreements, free market rules and
big oil to set the agenda with serious social and environmental
consequences," says Maude Barlow, the national chairperson of the
Council of Canadians.
After the film, the floor will be open to discussion.
Everyone is welcome to attend the event.
For more information, call 250 338-6265 or 250 339-6012.
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service
February 24, 2009
Salmon Arm Observer
Taking local governments' power
British Columbians know well that opening up borders to trade and
services isn’t always in their best interest.
The softwood lumber dispute under the North American Free Trade
Agreement between the U.S. and Canada is perhaps the most notable
example of this. In short, the U.S. refused to accept NAFTA panel
rulings in favour of Canada, and it was up to the Canadian and U.S.
governments to formulate an agreement for industry. This contentious
conclusion emphasized a significant failing of a free trade agreement
that’s supposed to benefit member countries the U.S., Canada and
NAFTA has never been a friendly agreement. It contains litigious
teeth, such as Chapter 11, which allows corporations or individuals to
sue a member country for compensation when investments have been
adversely affected by actions of that country. For example, the DOW
Chemical Company filed notice of legal action with Canada under
Chapter 11 because of a ban in Quebec on the use of cosmetic
pesticides. Although the time frame to launch the lawsuit has expired,
DOW was seeking not less than $2 million in compensation plus
expenses. In an earlier case, the United Parcel Service of America
(UPS) accused Canada of giving preferential treatment to its national
postal service, Canada Post, over private service companies. UPS
sought $160 million US in damages.
B.C. and Alberta municipalities now face similar challenges under the
new Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement. Similar to NAFTA,
this agreement can carry negative legal ramifications for provinces
and local governments when preferential treatment is given to local
service providers. For example, if a municipality is interested in
constructing a new civic facility valued at $100,000 or more, an
expression of interest must be open to businesses in both B.C. and
Alberta. If only local contractors are favoured, competing businesses
from out of the province can seek compensation under TILMA of up to $5
Locally, some politicians have pointed to the advantage of having
standardization of professional qualifications and other business
requirements. While this aspect of the agreement would undoubtedly be
useful, the apparent dangers could far outweigh the advantages.
It makes sense to want to open amicable trade relations between
provinces or countries, yet agreements like NAFTA and TILMA undermine
a government’s ability to put the interests first of those people who
actually fund the governments who draw up the agreements.
Warning Industry Propaganda Below
Wednesday February 25th, 2009
Moncton Times & Transcript
Other pesticides harmful too
To The Editor:
I have read Gideon Forman's letter regarding a cosmetic pesticide ban
and it contains the words "good for human . . . health."
What is also good for human health is to prohibit the distribution of
the poisonous products (pesticides) that are used in cultivating
fruits, vegetables and cereals.
They also wash into our water supplies (rivers, lakes, groundwater)
and are carcinogenic, mutagenic, reprotoxic and endocrine disrupting;
i.e.: they are killing us.
Think you're safe consuming organic products?
Wrong, they also contain traces of pesticides.
Perhaps Mr. Forman would informatively comment on what the Canadian
Association of Physicians for the Environment is doing, if anything,
regarding this issue?
Paul F. Melanson,
February 17, 2009
Salmon Arm Observer
MDs, activists influence council
It appears Salmon Arm City Council and numerous medical doctors in
Salmon Arm have been falsely convinced that lawn and garden pesticides
pose a significant health risk.
However, to date there is no scientific study or evidence which
conclusively links lawn and garden pesticides to human health issues.
Health Canada oversees the Pest Control Products Act. This legislation
includes a registration process which requires thorough scientific
evaluation of new and existing pesticide products to determine health,
safety and the environment are protected. This registration process
ensures when pesticides are applied according to the label, they pose
no associated human health risks or harm to the environment.
In addition, there is the BC Integrated Pest Management Act which
regulates the sale, use and handling of pesticides.
Rejecting the above science-based approaches may be erring on the side
of caution, but, more often than not, it is a direct result of the
effects of misinformation, irrational fear, and in some cases, fraud.
Dr. Warren Bell is the past-president and a founding member of
Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). He is
exploiting his status as a physician to push his personal convictions.
MDs by profession are not experts in toxicology or epidemiology as it
relates to pesticides, and it could be said that environmentalists are
diametrically opposed to industry, development and, in some cases,
Couns. Cannon and Harrison say that the majority of residents support
a pesticide ban. However, to date there has not been a scientifically
conducted public opinion poll to reflect the thoughts of Salmon Arm
In addition, city staff and parks maintenance personnel did not
recommend approval for Bylaw 3744, citing a lack of manpower,
expertise, budget constraints and bylaw enforcement capability.
If the pesticide committee had considered opinions offered by other
levels of government, city staff, industry and residents, Bylaw 3744
probably would not exist, regardless of the influence of activists and
It is a councillor’s duty as an elected official to accurately reflect
the overall position of the community when passing a bylaw. However,
being present at the last two city hall open door meetings, I could
not help but form the impression that the objections to pesticide use
by the majority of councillors stemmed from a personal bias.
When the information presented by the MDs is proven false, who will be
responsible for any financial loss?
Will the councillors back the MDs with their own wallets, or will they
use the taxpayers'?
Elements Lawn Maintenance