Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Big Daddy Dow and the Weedkiller of Doom...And More

NAFTA - Dow, Chapter 11, & The Standing Committee on International

The Standing Committee on International Trade met this morning (March
24th) to review Chapter 11, the investor-state clause of the North
American Free Trade Agreement.

The audio from this morning's proceedings can be accessed by going to

The short 'minutes of the proceedings' are at

Board member Steven Shrybman presented for Council of Canadians.
Equiterre, the David Suzuki Foundation, and Ecojustice also jointly
presented this morning. They spoke primarily about the Dow NAFTA
challenge against Quebec’s pesticide ban. You can read more about that
at and at

To read about the current Chapter 11 cases against the Government of
Canada, you can go to the Department of Foreign Affairs and
International Trade website at


Tue 10 Mar 2009.


OTTAWA – On Tuesday, the International Trade Committee passed a New
Democrat motion calling for hearings on a trade dispute over Quebec’s
province wide cosmetic pesticide ban. The motion, tabled by New
Democrat’s International Trade Critic Peter Julian, will allow the
committee to look into the NAFTA Chapter 11 challenge by Dow Agro
Sciences against Quebec’s ban of lawn and garden pesticides.

“NAFTA’s Chapter 11 provisions have been criticised as shutting down
democratic governments and Dow’s challenge is clearly a case in
point,” said Julian. “The province of Quebec, with broad support from
the population, banned toxic pesticides and now a major chemical
company is trying to use Chapter 11 to shake the government down and
get compensation for products that clearly have profound health
effects. This issue must be brought in the public domain.”

Dow Agro Sciences in suing the federal government for loss of profits
which would occur as a result of this pesticide ban. Dow filled a $2
million notice of action last under Chapter 11 of NAFTA last August.

Currently, there are approximately 1,000 commercial pesticide products
for sale in Canada that cannot be sold in other nations because of
health and environmental concerns.

Julian’s motion was amended at committee to include discussion of
another Chapter 11 case regarding the seizure of Abitibi Bowater
assets by the Newfoundland government.



OTTAWA – Mardi, le Comité du commerce international a adopté une
motion du NPD demandant la tenue d’audiences concernant un conflit
commercial issue de l’interdiction au Québec de l’usage de pesticides
à des fins esthétiques. La motion, déposée par le porte-parole du NPD
en matière de commerce international, Peter Julian, permettra au
Comité d’examiner le recours au Chapitre 11 de l’ALENA par Dow Agro
Sciences pour contester l’interdiction de l’utilisation de ces
pesticides dans les pelouses et les jardins au Québec.

« La disposition du Chapitre 11 de l’ALENA a été dénoncée comme étant
une forme de bâillonnement des gouvernements démocratiques, et ce
recours par Dow est un excellent exemple, a déclaré M. Julian. Le
gouvernement du Québec, avec le soutien d’une grande partie de la
population, a interdit l’utilisation de pesticides toxiques, mais
voilà qu’un important fabricant de produits chimiques tente de se
prévaloir des dispositions du Chapitre 11 pour obliger le gouvernement
à l’indemniser pour des produits qui sont manifestement nocifs pour la
santé. La question doit être débattue publiquement. »

Dow Agro Sciences poursuit le gouvernement fédéral pour la perte de
bénéfices qu’entraînerait cette interdiction. En août dernier,
l’entreprise a déposé un avis d’action de deux millions de dollars aux
termes du Chapitre 11 de l’ALENA.

Un millier environ de pesticides commerciaux actuellement en vente au
Canada sont frappés d’interdiction dans d’autres pays à cause de leur
impact sur la santé et l’environnement.

Le Comité a modifié la motion de M. Julian en y incluant une autre
contestation déposée en vertu du Chapitre 11 concernant la saisie des
avoirs d’Abitibi Bowater par le gouvernement de Terre-Neuve.


Thursday March 5, 2009

Dow Suing Canada Because Quebec Bans Controversial Pesticide

That's right Montreal. Our federal tax money is being spent as we
speak on defending Quebec's Pesticides Management Code -- a code that
limits the use of cosmetic or non-essential lawncare products -- to a
company that brought you innovations as varied as saran wrap,
Styrofoam and napalm-b!

Dow AgroSciences -- a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dow Chemical -- and
their legal team invoked a nifty NAFTA provision and want compensation
in the order of $2 million plus legal fees reimbursed over Quebec
"wrongfully" banning the use of products containing 2,4-D (which is,
incidentally, the "safer" of two herbicides used, in ester form, to
make chemical superstar Agent Orange, another fine Dow product).

This Montreal Gazette article interviews Donald Page, then executive
director of the Industry Task Force II on 2,4-D Research and he is
adamant that Quebec is going to lose the suit because they won't be
able to prove 2,4-D causes cancer. So as long as it doesn't cause
cancer, it must be safe? Does that kind of logic make anyone feel
safe? Page says nothing about the herbicide's reported links to birth
defects, damage to reproductive systems, irreversible eye damage,
endocrine system disruption, neurological impairments, and a
compromised immune system.


So what is 2,4-D? It's a weed-killing pesticide Dow's in-house
research deems safe and non-carcinogenic. Health Canada agrees, as
long as it's used properly. So does the European Union. And the World
Health Organization only considers 2,4-D "moderately hazardous." The
Environmental Protection Agency also reports 2,4-D is safe as long as
it does not exceed a "maximum contaminant level," kind of like how
chocolate can contain a certain amount of rat poop and still be deemed
safe (and legal) for human consumption (the FDA calls said poop
"mammalian excreta" and group the latter, as well as fly legs,
maggots, insect filth, rodent hairs, parasitic cysts, and mold under
the foodie blanket term, "defects"; kinda makes the allergy-prone
wonder what they're allergic to, the food or the "defects," n'est-ce-

On the other side of the coin, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Kuwait
prohibit using 2,4-D on lawns and gardens, Belize severely restricts
its use, South Australia seasonally bans certain formulations of the
herbicide used by farmers,'s lawn care expert Kelly Burke
thinks chemical pesticides should be restricted to licensed
applicators, suggesting household use may not be appropriate, Ontario
is following Quebec's lead and prohibiting 85 pesticides, including
2,4-D, starting April 22nd and New York-based Natural Resources
Defense Council is urging the EPA to recant their "safe" position on
2,4-D, pointing to a flawed risk assessment.

Now the city of Montreal is chiming in, declaring their full support
in defending Quebec's Pesticides Management Code along with over 40
Quebec environmental and community organizations.

But before the plot thickens, tell me what you think. Do you feel in
safe hands with Dow's multi million dollar research and Health
Canada's heads up or do you support Quebec's and Montreal's respective
bans on pesticides?

And at the end of the day, who is genuinely protecting you and your
family's health?

More on:
* Chapter 11 of NAFTA
* 2,4-D Faces Scrutiny and Possible Ban in the United States
* Quebec's Pesticides Management Code

* Comments (2)


Tue, 10/28/2008

Big Daddy Dow and the Weedkiller of Doom

by: El Dragón

Ah, NAFTA! What a wonderful web of malfeasance you've wrought. In your
efforts to enhance "free trade" (one of the greatest examples of real-
life newspeak there ever was), you've created a crowbar for
multinationals to pop open markets against their will. Cool!

Take the stand-off currently going on between Quebec and Dow
AgroSciences. Quebec has the audacity to tell Dow, a company that's
roughly 4.5 times the size of God, that they don't want Dow's
weedkiller "2,4-d" to be used in Quebec for merely cosmetic, squirt-it-
around-the-lawn purposes. I mean, who the hell is Quebec? Dow has
divisions bigger than Quebec's GNP, and they're gonna throw down a

Well, Dow doesn't have an army with which to invade (yet), so they
submitted a 27-page brief under Chapter 11 of NAFTA, which allows
companies and investors to end-run local courts and sue the federal
government, if the locals get uppity. In their paper, Dow calls
Quebec's actions tantamount to "nationalization" (??) in an effort to
get Canada's federal government to lean on its provinces. From the
above article:

Dow's legal brief accuses the Quebec government of implementing a
pesticide ban that "is not based on science" and was applied to 2,4-D
"without providing any meaningful opportunity" for the company to make
its case that the herbicide is safe.

Such nice, polite talk, eh? "Here now, my good man, you've done me a
disservice by not affording me a meaningful opportunity!" What crap.
I know a smackdown when I see one, so, here, now, is the Food Fighter
interpretation of Dow's argument.

Oh, no, no, no, you gonna suck Big Daddy's weedkiller, baby! Don't
like that? Too bad! Cuz after the 24D, we gonna make you buy our
breast implants, too! Someone's gotta take em! Thank God for NAFTA!
Wazzup, Canada?!

OK, so they aren't looking to dump breast implants on Quebec as far as
we know (but where DO you think all those Ziplock bags of silicone

Anyway, here's the real Kicker. If Big Daddy Dow doesn't get his way?
Dow's going to go crying to the U.S. federal government and claim $2+
million in lost trade damages. That's right. Joe the Plumber is gonna
have to pay up to Dow because Quebec doesn't want people overusing
pesticides and tainting their groundwater.

Ah, the rich, syrupy taste of socialism. Nar um num num num num!


24 March 2009 - providing green news, views and commercial data tailored to
the needs of professional environmentalists

Canadian province bans pesticides

The Canadian province of Ontario will ban cosmetic pesticides from
next month.

Under new legislation to take effect from Wednesday, April 22 - Earth
Day, an environmental awareness event - the cosmetic use of pesticides
on lawns, gardens, cemeteries, parks and schools will be banned and
products removed from the shelves.

John Gerretsen, Ontario environment minister, said: "We have fulfilled
our commitment to ban the sale and use of cosmetic pesticides in

"I'm proud to say that, when the ban takes effect on Earth Day, we
will have eliminated this unnecessary risk to our environment, our
families, and especially our children."

The moves is the final step in the Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act, passed
last year.

It covers a range of herbicides, fungicides and insecticides.

More than 250 pesticide products including Roundup, Killex and Weed
and Feed will be taken off shop shelves and some 80 ingredients banned
for use.

Lawn companies and homeowners will be prohibited from using them.

Exceptions include for public health or safety reasons such as
fighting West Nile Virus, killing stinging insects, or controlling
poison ivy and other plants poisonous to the touch.

Other exceptions include agriculture and forestry and golf courses.
Municipalities can apply to the Ministry of the Environment for
exemptions to maintain sports fields for a national or international

Ontario is the second Canadian province to ban cosmetic pesticide use
after Quebec in 2006, it is understood. The ban replaces existing
municipal bylaws.

The environment ministry has said previously that the government
"believes the use of pesticides to control pesky weeds and insects for
purely cosmetic reasons is an unnecessary risk to our families and
pets, especially when you can have a healthier lawn and garden without

It added: "We have listened to medical experts, who have made a
convincing case for reducing our exposure to pesticides, particularly
children who are generally more susceptible to the potential toxic
effects of pesticides."

But the ban has provoked resistance in some quarters, including the
landscaping industry.

Pierre Petelle, director of regulatory affairs at Croplife Canada, a
trade association representing manufacturers, developers and
distributors of pest control products, said: "The main problem with
these regulations is they arenÕt science-based. This will have an
effect on innovation in developing new products."

Supporters say non-toxic lawn care, which involves hand-weeding and is
more labour-intensive, will spur job creation especially among young
people looking for holiday work.

It is has reportedly already sparked a boom in mechanical weeding tool

For more details visit the Ontario ministry of environment website @

David Gibbs

© Faversham House Group Ltd 2009.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

CBC News

Widows seek changes for Agent Orange compensation rules, deadline

A group of military widows is trying to have the deadline extended for
people seeking compensation for illness and death from Agent Orange
spraying at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in the 1960s.

The deadline to apply for the federal government's compensation
package is April 1, but an organization is pushing to have that date
moved and for a change to the qualifying date to cover when their
husbands died.

Calling themselves Widows on the Warpath, the group has about 80
members across the country, said founder Bette Hudson.

"I wasn't eligible because he didn't die on or after Feb. 6, 2006. He
was to have died on or after that date. And he died in 2004," Hudson

All members of Hudson's group have seen their claims rejected by the
compensation package, which offers payments of up to $20,000 to
veterans with specific diseases linked to the spraying of the
herbicide Agent Orange in 1966 and '67.

The U.S. military tested Agent Orange, Agent Purple and several other
defoliants on a small section of the base over seven days in 1966 and

The federal government's compensation offer is subject to tight
restrictions, with payments only available to veterans and civilians
who worked on or lived within five kilometres of the base between 1966
and 1967, and only those who have illnesses associated with Agent
Orange exposure.

Those illnesses include Hodgkin's disease, lymphoma, respiratory
cancers, prostate cancer and type 2 diabetes, as determined by the
U.S. Institute of Medicine.

It is anticipated roughly 4,500 people will be eligible for the

Hudson's claim is one of 878 denied by the Department of Veterans
Affairs, while 2,153 have been approved.

Widows on the Warpath will be pressing federal politicians to open up
the compensation package with public meetings and protests planned
before the April 1 deadline.

"As far as we know and as far as our feeling is, they were eliminated
before it was ever announced in 2007. And that wasn't right and it's
not fair to these widows," Hudson said.

The widows' fight has caught the attention of a documentary film crew
from New York.

"A lot of people think the compensation package addressed the issues.
In actuality, only about 2,000 people have gotten the compensation
package and over 315,000 travelled on the base during the times of the
chemical defoliation period," said director Danny Feighery.

DND Agent Orange Report


March 24, 2009

Fighting Lawn Weeds Organically
by Gabby Hyman, All About Lawns Columnist

So many homeowners pump gallons of post-emergent herbicides on their
lawns that they deplete their soil of vital nutrients, as well as
potentially poison the local water sources. Some commercial herbicides
have been linked to non-Hodgkins lymphoma and reproductive woes. It's
a completely avoidable practice since plenty of effective, safe,
organic post-emergent solutions are available. You can find a wide
assortment of controls using natural oils to treat crabgrass,
dandelion, chickweed, clover, and basket-grass.

Most of the organics available as post-emergent applications typically
not kill seeds, but they do the job nicely in killing off crabgrass
and weeds without damaging your lawn. Many use clove oil as the active
ingredient, and they may also include lemon oils, vinegar, soybean
oil, citric acid, mineral oil, lecithin, and sodium lauryl sulfate, a
foaming agent that helps coat the leaves of target broadleaf weeds.

Non-Synthetic Weed Killers and Lawn Care
Clove oil and corn gluten weed killers are reviewed by the
Environmental Protection Agency. While manufacturers assert that the
weeds will die in an hour, you may have to apply the herbicide several
times to eradicate perennials. Typically, you mix the treatment with
water and spray it on the weeds directly.

Be careful about over-using organic post-emergents, however, since too
much vinegar can alter soil pH. You should still avoid using them on
septic fields or vegetables. These products may be better employed as
spot killers.

Some organic weed killers need to be "activated" with a following
spray of water. The weeds should turn yellow within a day, and should
be left undisturbed for two days. Washing off the powdery residue can
dilute the killer.

About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for
Fortune 500 companies including eToys,, Siebel Systems,
Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.


Press Release, March 23, 2009
Coalition against Bayer Dangers (Germany)

Bayer Institute: Flawed emergency systems
Congress and Chemical Safety Board investigate fatal explosion at
Bhopal “sister plant” / Countermotion to Bayer shareholder meeting

The safety situation at Bayer's facilities in Institute, West
Virginia, remains critical. Large quantities of highly toxic chemicals
such as methyl isocyanate (MIC) and phosgene are produced and stored.
Serious accidents occur on a regular basis. The Coalition against
Bayer Dangers, based in Germany, now introduced a countermotion to
Bayer´s Annual Stockholders´ Meeting which demands not to ratify the
board until the MIC stockpiles are dismantled and the frequent spills
are stopped. The countermotion, which also has been published on Bayer
´s website, will be discussed in the meeting at Duesseldorf/Germany on
May 12.

In the 1980s, the factory belonged to Union Carbide and was regarded
as the "sister plant" to the infamous factory in Bhopal, India where
in December 1984 thirty tons of MIC leaked and at least 15,000 people
died. Today, nowhere else in the United States such large quantities
of MIC are produced and stored.

At last year's shareholder meeting, Bayer CEO Werner Wenning rejected
any need for action. He said that the plant conformed to the "latest
safety standards" and had an "excellent incident rate". Despite these
mollifications, the next serious accident in the plant happened just
four months later, on August 28, when a storage tank at Institute
exploded. Two workers lost their lives and thousands of residents were
not allowed to leave their houses for several hours. The tremors were
felt in a radius of more than 10 miles. Eye witnesses talked of
"shockwaves like an earthquake". A nearby highway was closed.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), after
analyzing the incident, criticized "faulty safety systems, significant
shortcomings with the emergency procedures and a lack of employee
training". In total, OSHA identified 13 serious violations of safety
regulations and imposed a penalty of $143,000.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper sharply criticized
Bayer on the night of the accident: “We are getting such poor
information from the plant, it's worthless." For several hours, the
rescue teams had tried to obtain information on the leaked substances,
but had been turned away by the gatekeeper (!). In a letter to the
Chemical Safety Board, the rescue services complained that they would
not have been able to help the residents in the event of an escape of
MIC or phosgene. The governor of the state of West Virginia issued an
order, specifically on account of this accident, stating that serious
incidents have to be reported to the authorities within 15 minutes.

Bayer endeavored to placate everyone after the explosion by
maintaining that the large MIC tanks were accommodated in another part
of the factory. Weeks later it emerged that one MIC tank containing up
to 20 metric tons of the deadly gas is located above ground less than
20 meters from the explosion. If it had been damaged, the lives of
other employees and residents would have been in extreme danger.
Although the plant management apologized for the communication
breakdowns, the company is still not taking any fundamental
consequences, and production based on MIC and phosgene is to continue.

Bayer meanwhile opposes a full clarification of the accident and has
especially hired PR consultants and an army of attorneys. A public
hearing by the Chemical Safety Board scheduled March 19 was called off
following threats from Bayer. Attorneys from Bayer referred to the
Maritime Transportation Security Act that was passed after September
11 – a law to protect ports and ships, even though the plant is around
500 km from the sea. It is evident that the company intends to use
legal tricks to prevent safety problems from being discussed in

Only after an Open Letter by twelve environmental groups and pressure
from the media the CSB re-scheduled the meeting for April 23 (see John Bresland, Chairman of the Chemical
Safety Board, says he wants to discuss in particular the safety of the
MIC tanks. On the same day the Congress Committee on Energy and
Commerce will investigate the causes of the accident and the adequacy
of the response.

Axel Koehler-Schnura from the Coalition against Bayer Dangers says:
“Highly hazardous substances such as phosgene and MIC do not belong in
mass production, and certainly not in the vicinity of residential
areas. The company's practice of preventing public debate through
legal loopholes should be condemned. Ever since the company became
established, Bayer has endeavored, by exerting pressure and making
threats, to suppress information and criticism. It uses its economic
power indiscriminately in order to protect its profits. The truth and
the interests of humans and the environment are left by the wayside.”

The Board of Management and the Supervisory Board have not taken any
steps to substantially improve the safety situation in Institute or to
enlighten the general public. The Coalition against Bayer Dangers will
therefore urge the shareholders not to ratify them.

More information: A Collection of Materials on Bayer´s Institute Plant

Coalition against BAYER Dangers
Tel: (+49) 211-333 911 Fax: (+49) 211-333 940
please send an e-mail for receiving the English newsletter Keycode
BAYER free of charge

Advisory Board
Prof. Juergen Junginger, designer, Krefeld,
Prof. Dr. Juergen Rochlitz, chemist, former member of the Bundestag,
Wolfram Esche, attorney, Cologne
Dr. Sigrid Müller, pharmacologist, Bremen
Eva Bulling-Schroeter, member of the Bundestag, Berlin
Prof. Dr. Anton Schneider, biologist, Neubeuern
Dr. Janis Schmelzer, historian, Berlin
Dr. Erika Abczynski, pediatrician, Dormagen

Warning Industry Propaganda Below

March 24, 2009

Ban is unwarranted

Kitchener-Waterloo Record


Diane Girard, in her letter questioning the fairness of the new
provincial pesticide law that takes effect this year, is absolutely
correct when she argues that the rationale breaks down when the law
allows golf courses to use the banned substances but not homeowners.

Even more bizarre is the fact that farmers can continue to use the
banned products, allowing these chemicals to get into our food system.

This law is all about the optics.

As well, the banned products are, as pointed out, federally tested and
approved for use. They have been scientifically proven to be safe when
used properly.

The rationale for implementing the law has not been based upon any
scientific conclusions, but on mere postulation that ponders the link
between these pesticides and health problems.

The argument basically boils down to: "There is no scientific basis
for the ban but better safe than sorry." If that is the rationale then
the law should also be extended to farms and golf courses. People who
play golf spend far more time standing on grass than those who don't.

Michael Williams
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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

Above Articles available through Trancontinental Newsnet

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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