Risks outweigh green lawn
MLA Chris Collins wants pesticides banned.
by Lise Elsliger
The danger of toxic chemicals to our health is becoming more and more
of an issue everyday. For Chris Collins, MLA for Moncton-East,
exposing the danger of cosmetic pesticides has become a life mission.
As we sit to discuss this issue that's become his life he points to
folder a foot thick that he has on his desk.
"(That's) One of my files on pesticides," says Collins. "And I have
the equivalent of six of them. Newspaper clippings I've downloaded
from all over Canada. All the newspapers and articles that I've done."
Collins' story isn't an easy one, since it's forever linked with the
person that's the centre of all that he is: his son Sean. The young
boy has become sort of a legend in the Moncton area because of a book
he published prior to his death from cancer at the age of 13 called
Ten Needles meant to inspire people, with chapter headings such as:
"Live each day as if it were your last."
"I've never ever said that pesticides have caused my son's cancer. It
may have been pesticides. It may have been a genetic anomaly. But I
know what a family with a child with cancer goes through and if we're
spreading this on our lawns for the sake of a greener lawn when
there's a suspicion, even a suspicion that it causes cancer in
children, then it's wrong. And if this legislation can stop one family
from going through losing a child or going through the cancer
treatments it's worth it."
The fact is that Collins isn't the only person who speaks of the
cancer risks of cosmetic pesticides. Among the sources he directs me
to is the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.
Founded in 1994, CAPE is an award-winning national organization of
medical doctors and concerned citizens.
In a letter addressed to the public they state: "Pesticides are linked
to brain cancer, birth defects, and childhood leukemia - yet in many
communities there are no limits on spraying whatsoever. These poisons
can be used in school yards, hospital lawns, even daycare centres."
"They say they're not dangerous if they're used properly," Collins
argues. "I'm sorry but that's a fine line. If they're dangerous
they're dangerous. It's as simple as that. And how necessary are they?
When proper fertilization, proper liming of the lawn, aeration of the
lawn and proper watering will give you a healthy lawn and a healthy
lawn will choke most of the weeds out itself."
Collins' passion for the environment did not start yesterday. Prior to
his last two years as an MLA, he was fighting the environmental cause
as a Moncton city councillor when he realized it was almost impossible
for him to fight for the environment on a municipal level.
"The city's legal department explained to me we didn't have the
authority to do so," he explains. He then contacted Health Minister
Mike Murphy who put a bill on the floor of the legislature.
The goal was to amend the Municipalities Act to give municipalities
the authority to enforce by-laws on pesticide use for cosmetic
purposes. When Lord called an election, the act "died on the order
paper" hence it didn't go through.
His next step was to become an MLA with the mission of fighting
"So I brought it to the attention of the Environment Minister and the
Heath Minister and the Minister of Local Government and the Minister
of Agriculture," he explains. "We had a long discussion. They decided
to have a consultation with the people of New Brunswick." This
consultation took place last July until October with over 1,300 people
The popular vote? The report states that "strong support was expressed
by respondents (both individuals and municipalities) for a province-
wide ban on the sale as well as use of lawn care and landscape
So what's next?
"So what we're waiting for right now is the Department of Environment
to come out with what their legislation will be. I expect that this
spring. Hopefully, we'll have it in place so that it becomes effective
within a year. I'm hoping, personally, that they'll pay heed to what
the people of N.B. have told them and that is: ban it province-wide.
"Pass good tough legislation that will make for a safer environment
for our children. All of us. And our pets and people in the future."
A last reflection on his role in politics. . .
"I'm not in this because I want to be a politician. I'm in this
because I want to create some change. I'm very motivated to be
involved in politics from a children's heath perspective in particular
in regards to the expenses incurred by families that have sick
children. Also to try to gain more services right here in New
Brunswick for sick children."
View a copy of the Consultation Report online at
March 12, 2009
Cornwall Standard Freeholder
Nothing safe about pesticides
Re: Pesticide ban a bad move, by Lorne Hepworth, president of CropLife
Canada, a lobby group, published in The Standard- Freeholder on March
A retired intelligence analyst, I am Canadian observer on the
Pesticide Working Group based in Washington, D. C.
A well-known chemical industry lobbyist, Mr. Hepworth keeps repeating
the same tired arguments in favour of the untrustworthy and industry
dependent federal pesticide evaluation process, with vital information
withheld by the industry from Health Canada's Pest Management
Regulatory Agency (PMRA).
On the other hand, he is incapable of accepting that there is a
growing body of independent professionals with an impeccable record,
as well as knowledgeable laymen, whose well-documented concerns about
the effects of the redundant, cosmetic use of pesticides have now been
taken seriously by the provincial government.
There is nothing safe about pesticides Hepworth defends. Pesticides
are highly toxic to all form of life and should be used with extreme
caution only when their use is absolutely necessary. This does not
apply to suburban lawns which can be maintained in an excellent
condition without the use of any toxic chemicals: I speak on the basis
of personal experience.
Hepworth alleges that pesticides enhance Canadians' quality of life.
He should tell this to the numerous child victims of cancer, asthma
and serious developmental problems--all virtually unheard of only a
few decades ago, not to speak of the ever-increasing number of victims
of adult cancer, reproductive problems and deadly neurological
diseases such as Parkinson's (also an occupational disease of
K. Jean Cottam, PhD, Ottawa
March 12, 2009
Pesticides not needed
I found it very disconcerting that over 49 per cent of people sampled
in The Record's poll did not support the Ontario government's
The Ontario College of Family Physicians shows positive links between
pesticide exposure and many illnesses, including brain, prostate,
kidney and pancreatic cancer, as well as leukemia, among others.
Pesticides can be absorbed through the skin or swallowed or -- most
toxic of all -- inhaled. A pesticide can drift from where it is being
used and settle on ponds, washing lines, toys left outside, pools and
garden furniture. Pets and people can track the residue into the
house. Children are particularly vulnerable.
The sad thing is, it's been shown that only five per cent of
pesticides reach weeds and the rest runs off to dissipate in the air
or, worse still, contaminate our drinking water supply as well as
crippling wildlife and damaging our forests. Some newborn babies are
found to have pesticides in their umbilical cord blood.
Pesticides have only been in use for about 50 years. Up until then,
farmers used crop rotations and companion planting, and even today non-
toxic controls can be bought and used by gardeners and companies to
obtain a weed-free lawn.
We are an ongoing human experiment that future generations may shake
their heads at. Certainly more education on the part of the public is
March 12, 2009
Weed companies adjusting to provincial ban
COSMETIC CHEMICAL USE TABOO: More than 250 pesticides, herbicides make
by SHELBY PARKER THE INTELLIGENCER
Anger is growing among some local weed control services as Ontario
moves to stamp out so-called cosmetic chemical use.
More than 250 pesticides and herbicides have been banned from Ontario
lawns because of suspected harmful health effects.
One local service employee, who did not wish to be named, said she and
her husband have felt they have been demonized in the community
because of the bans and one resident even called her husband a "baby
Two local companies, Nutri-Lawn and Turf King, referred calls from The
Intelligencer to Jeff Lowes with M-Rep Communications.
Lowes said the industry, of about 21,000 people in Ontario, will be
appeal the decision made by the province because they believe the
reports on the pesticides was false.
"Belleville stated that this was best decided by higher level of
government. That was correct, we just didn't expect it to be so
corrupt," said Lowes.
Some lawn maintenance companies have seen the writing on the wall and
have been ready for the deadlines that take effect next month.
Ryan Coons, manager at Weed Man in Belleville, said that since the
Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act was passed last June, they have been
preparing for this day.
"We've switched over to the organic weed control. (It's not) a big
shock," said Coons.
The ban will come into effect on Earth Day, April 22, prohibiting sale
and use of pesticides on "lawns, gardens, parks and schools yards," a
government website states.
Coons said the new sprays are a little bit more expensive, but they
knew they had to be "prepared to make the change."
Larry Glover, parks manager with the city, said council recently
approved the alternative equipment in early February.
"Council supported us with alternative methods we are going to be
using," said Glover.
He also said they were preparing for the ban, and the department staff
was to purchase "the absolute minimum" last season to gradually wean
themselves off of the banned chemicals.
"We knew this was coming," he said.
Most landscaping companies, like Green Thumb Landscaping, said that
the weed control aspect of their business has become so vast, they now
contract out to other companies.
"We don't do the weed spraying," said Stuart Sprout, with Green Thumb.
He said keeping up with the weed "policy and procedures" is a "full-
time job" in itself. And landscapers like himself don't have the time
to keep up with the demands.
"You're either in it or you're not," said Sprout, who said the
landscapers would only be "marginally" affected by the new ban if the
weed control companies start charging more for their services.
March 12, 2009
Ottawa's last mission for Agent Orange
the canadian press
Fredericton (N.B.) Gleaner
The story has all the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster: poisonings;
disease and death; international implications; government denials and
The story of Agent Orange spraying at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in
New Brunswick is, in fact, about to become a documentary movie, which
will bring the saga to a wider audience and hopefully put added
pressure on the federal government to take responsibility for its
While the Agent Orange Association of Canada says more than 3.3
million litres of chemicals were sprayed on CFB Gagetown between 1956
and 1984, the only federal government acknowledgment of responsibility
is rather twisted.
Ottawa will only admit to allowing American military personnel to use
the base to spray Agent Orange from 1966 to '67. The U.S. needed a
place to test the chemical defoliant for future use in Vietnam's
jungles while fighting there, and we kindly let them use our base for
As a result of that limited acknowledgment, any payment for harm done
has been to soldiers on the base, and people living within five
kilometres of the base, during that time.
The payment issue has been a huge thorn in the side of the Stephen
Harper government since it announced a one-time ex gratia payment of
$20,000 for those affected, or their surviving primary caregiver. That
payment comes with no acknowledgment of responsibility and no
But wait. The Harper government promised, just before it was elected
in early 2006, that it would "stand up for full and fair compensation
to persons exposed to defoliant spraying during the period from 1956
to 1984," and it would ". . . disclose all information concerning the
spraying to veterans and civilians."
That most definitely has not happened. In fact, the greatest insult in
this whole drama, besides the refusal of the government to admit
anything, is the niggling detail of date of death. Feb. 6, 2006, is
the determining day -- the day on which the Harper government was
sworn in. If you were affected by Agent Orange spraying during that
window of 1966-67 and you died before that date, you lose. If you died
on or after that date, your widow gets the paltry sum of $20,000 to
compensate for all the pain and suffering, indignity and betrayal.
Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson says they had to start
somewhere, so they picked that date. That is the sorriest example of
arbitrary government decision-making in recent history, but it's more
It is a further insult and punishment to an already ignored segment of
the population that did nothing more than be in the wrong place at the
A massive letter-writing campaign by the many widows affected has made
many aware of the issue, but it has not changed the government's mind.
We can only hope this movie, which has hopes of being screened at the
internationally acclaimed Toronto Film Festival, will change a few
minds in cabinet. Sadly, if that happens, it probably won't be because
it's the right thing to do. It will be the enormous international
outrage that does it.
Still, we can hope our government will finally do what every
kindergarten-age child is expected to do -- take responsibility for
An editorial from the Fredericton (N.B.) Gleaner
Organic products now regulated in Canada
Published Thursday March 12th, 2009
Organic foods are healthier in every way, so it's good news that the
organic farming movement in Canada reached a significant milestone
Dec. 14: Canadian federal law now defines and regulates organic food.
The Canadian Organic Products Regulations was passed and will come
into effect June 30. Other countries around the world are in the
process of passing similar legislation.
Up until this point the Canadian Organic Growers Association developed
and set the standards. In New Brunswick, ACORN (Atlantic Canada
Organic Regional Network) was the governing body.
An identifiable organic logo will appear on all food that meets
organic standards, also certifying the food for international trade.
For meat, poultry, dairy products and eggs, organic means raised
without antibiotics and growth hormones. For fruits and vegetables it
means grown without commercial pesticides, synthetic fertilizers,
sewage sludge, bio-engineered seeds or plants and ionizing radiation.
Organic also means producers try to use renewable and sustainable
resources and practice soil conservation. They also have guidelines on
how their workers are to be treated.
If you see 100 per cent organic on the box, it means the product
contains at least 95 per cent organic ingredients. If it just says
organic, it means 70 per cent or more. If it's less than 70 per cent
organic, the product can make organic claims only in the list of
ingredients on the side of the box. "Natural," on the other hand,
means minimally processed and preservative-free.
We've learned something: it pays to work with nature. British born Sir
Albert Howard is considered the founder of the modern organic
movement. He was a botanist and an agricultural advisor in Indore,
India in the 1930s and ‘40s. Although he came to improve Indian
agriculture with modern methods, he ended up learning more from
traditional practices and proclaimed that "the health of soil, plant,
animal and man is one and indivisible" in his book, An Agricultural
Later he came to the US, teaming up with J.I. Rodale. Rodale is now a
huge publishing corporation that helped spread the organic gospel. It
also operates large organic research farms. Although over and over
Howard was proven right, it took this long to gain the sanctity of law
for organic farming practices.
Here in New Brunswick, we have many organic producers. You can find
them by going to the ACORN web site at www.acornorganic.org.
Even big producers are on the organic bandwagon now. We'll see if the
corporate take on organic is a boon or a mixed blessing. Prices may go
down but smaller local growers may be squeezed out.
Now that the growing season is almost upon us, more organic
agricultural products will be found in our farm markets. This supports
the local economy and I think it's the best way to go.
• Elaine Mandrona is a locally based registered nutritional consulting
practitioner who advises people on nutrition and weight loss. If you
would like to reach her, phone 874-8142. Visit Elaine's blog at
Report: Fire retardant pants not to blame for sickening Boca Raton
By MICHAEL LaFORGIA
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
BOCA RATON — City firefighters complaining of strange symptoms can't
blame their pants for making them sick, a federal inquiry determined.
Even so, the local firefighters union today was sticking to the
conclusion it reached late last year - that department issued FireWear
uniform pants were poisoning them with antimony, a fire-retardant and
heavy metal related to arsenic.
Bill Ingram/The Post
FireWear maker's statement: 'The Fechheimer Brothers Company considers
the quality of our products and safety of our customers to be our top
priorities. We are pleased that the testing conducted ... has affirmed
our conviction in our products.'
A month of testing 66 firefighters from Boca Raton and Tamarac, where
firefighters also wore the pants, found no indication the pants caused
health problems, according to the doctor heading the federal probe.
"Our results indicate that wearing FireWear pants does not cause
elevated levels of antimony among firefighters," wrote Dr. Marie de
Perio of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, in
a letter to Boca Raton Fire Chief Thomas Wood. "Given our findings, we
do not believe any further investigation of this issue is warranted."
Of 112 Boca Raton firefighters invited to participate in the federal
study, only 24 took part, de Perio's letter noted.
The reason, said Fire Capt. John Luca, the union president who
successfully pushed the city to ditch the fire-retardant pants - and
raised an alarm that prompted two other state fire departments to do
the same - was that the firefighters knew the tests would reveal
"There's a lot of conflicting information here. A lot of us were told
that what they were doing is not valid," Luca said. "They did not do a
comprehensive medical review of all of our members. They did a test
that they knew was going to come up with false readings."
At issue for the firefighters was whether urine tests, rather than
hair samples, would reveal evidence of long-term antimony exposure.
Based on information from toxicologists and medical experts the union
consulted, Luca said, the answer was no.
Also at play, Luca said, was the advice of the Ferraro Group, a Miami-
based product liability law firm retained by a handful of union
members, including Luca.
"People retained the law firm," said Luca, who didn't participate in
the federal review. "They were told not to participate."
In September, the union formed a committee to investigate the cause of
the firefighters' ailments after Luca, who suffered nerve problems
including trembling and weakness, became suspicious of the pants.
Thirty-six firefighters submitted hair samples to Dr. Leonard Haimes,
a holistic physician in Boca Raton, who sent the hair to a Chicago lab
for testing. Thirty of those tested showed "very elevated" antimony
levels, Haimes and the union said.
Soon after the tests, firefighters filed worker's compensation claims
but were denied pending the federal review. Now that the inquiry is
complete, those claims will be turned down, city officials said.
"We're pleased to have received the report," Assistant City Manager
George Brown said today. "We're glad that that part of the process is
complete and the indications are positive for the individuals."
In February, CDC investigators tested firefighters' urine samples
using "inductively coupled dynamic reaction cell plasma mass
spectrometry" and concluded the firefighters antimony and mercury
levels "were comparable to levels found in the normal population," de
A representative of Fechheimer Brothers, the Cincinnati-based company
that manufactures the FireWear pants, said in a statement that the
test results "affirmed our conviction in our products."
"The Fechheimer Brothers Company considers the quality of our products
and safety of our customers to be our top priorities," the statement
Luca and the union weren't convinced.
"We have worker's compensation attorney's working on it and we've got
product liability attorneys working on it, and we'll wait to hear from
them," he said. "We think it's going to be a long battle."
Warning Industry Propaganda Below
Ontario Tories need a moderate leader to nudge right
the canadian press
• Ontario Tories need a moderate leader ...
March 11, 2009
Mercury news services
The public humiliation of John Tory triggers a surge of sympathy for a
good guy -- smart, gracious, hard-working and principled.
Is Tory, as some have said, the best premier that Ontario never had?
It's hard to imagine a premier, however intelligent, with such suspect
political judgment. Whether it was matters of timing or instinct or
both, Tory was his own worst enemy.
In the 2007 Ontario election, as a Progressive Conservative able to
distance himself from Mike Harris, he had at least an even shot at
knocking Dalton McGuinty out of the premier's office. But Tory, acting
on sheer principle, made funding of faith-based schools part of his
platform -- a misstep the Liberals seized on and turned into the wedge
issue of the campaign. The Conservatives lost ground and Tory was left
without a seat.
A year ago, Tory won a meagre 66.8 per cent in a party confidence vote
-- just barely enough for a determined leader to stay on. But then,
choosing consultation over instinct, he took three hours to decide to
stay, confusing his supporters and fuelling his enemies.
It took him 17 months to find a place to run again, leaving him with a
low profile and no voice in the legislature as Ontario crashed into
the recession. He finally found a willing sacrificial lamb in MPP
Laurie Scott, who surrendered her safe seat in Haliburton-Kawartha
Lakes-Brock for Tory to contest. His loss there last week not only
ended his political career, but cost the PCs a badly needed seat.
A politician with better political instincts would not have campaigned
on a polarizing religious-schooling issue, would not have run against
Liberal Education Minister Kathleen Wynne in 2007 or, this winter, as
a parachute candidate trying to replace a popular local MPP.
His instincts have failed him before. He was campaign manager for
former federal Tory leader and prime minister Kim Campbell, signing
off on TV ads that mocked Jean Chretien's facial features. They
backfired and are still seen as one of the reasons the party was
reduced from 151 to two seats -- and eventually merged with the Reform
Over the long run, Tory has had no one to blame but himself.
The question now is, whither the Ontario PC party?
Tory was a "red Tory," the antithesis of the hard-right Mike Harris.
Now that Tory has been repudiated, the neo-Harrisite forces are
gathering to pull the party away from the centre. Tim Hudak is the
highest-profile of likely successors, but most of the others are
equally unabashed Harrisites. They have a lot of the party faithful
behind them -- even though Ontario loudly rejected the meanness and
the "I'm OK" attitude to social justice that Harris brought to Queen's
McGuinty has a firm grip on the political centre, but the PCs with a
moderate new leader should nudge right, offering a socially
responsible alternative to the Liberals' "nanny state" doctrine of
outlawed dogs, light bulbs and pesticides and mandatory green audits.
That's a far more palatable -- and electable -- choice to Ontarians
who have seen the social and economic ruin wreaked by ideological
conservatism and don't want to revisit it.
Consider pesticides' ends and effects
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
By JOEL M. LERNER / Special to The Washington Post
One of the most controversial balancing acts facing gardeners is the
use of pesticides.
Chemical control of insects first surfaced in the early 19th century,
when a mix of lime or wood ashes and powdered tobacco leaves was
sprinkled on crops to deter bugs. In the 20th century, pesticide use
became indiscriminate. The assumption was that pesticides were the
best way to control insects.
However, the question of whether pesticides could harm us and our
environment became an issue with the publication of the book Silent
Spring by Rachel Carson, published in 1962.
Carson's work and that of others expressing concern about the rampant
use of toxic pesticides were a major force behind the development of
safer ways to control pests. A program called integrated pest
management (IPM), which attempts to balance the use of pesticides, was
developed with federal backing.
We don't want to live with pests, but we don't want to be poisoned
trying to control them. On the other side of the debate, the logic is
that such materials have gone through rigorous laboratory testing,
some with more than 30 years of positive results with no deleterious
By improving planting conditions, you put plants under less stress and
make the environment less hospitable to pests. Fungi, for example,
invade only with the right opportunity. Create better site conditions.
Lighten the soil with compost. Keep soil evenly moist. Improve air
Start with less-damaging materials. For example, insect hormones
called pheromones are available to attract predators and parasites
that will kill plant pests. One product is Ladybug Lures; a ladybug
can eat up to 1,000 aphids in its lifetime.
Bacteria, viruses, insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils are less
toxic than pesticides. The bacteria Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) is
harmless to humans, pets and wildlife but infects gypsy moths, tent
and other caterpillars. It is available under several names, including
Thuricide and Dipel.
Horticultural soaps are effective controls for aphids, mealybugs and
other soft-bodied insects. They are sold with the words "insecticidal
soap" on their labels. Horticultural oils smother mites, aphids and
scale insects. Oil products are Sunspray Ultra-Fine Oil, Volck Oil
Spray and others.
Weed-killers are relatively new. But first, try vinegar for a safe
instant knockdown and corn gluten powder for pre-emergent weed-killer
in spring and fall. If that fails, tolerate some lawn weeds.
Pest control includes wildlife control when animals threaten plants. A
safe method of deer control is to use plants that they don't like to
eat, such as viburnum, hellebore, winter-flowering jasmine, daffodil
and black-eyed Susan. Keep rabbits out of the garden by trying one of
the many rabbit repellents around plants they eat, and install an 18-
inch rabbit fence. Squirrel Away keeps squirrels out of bird feeders
and bulb beds.
Try a home remedy if it doesn't involve mixing unknown chemicals –
human hair in a fabric bag, hung on plants that deer like; mothballs
to deter rabbits; used caffeinated-coffee grounds around the base of
plants that slugs eat.
IPM is a work in progress. Thirty years ago, few people cared about
the means to achieving an end. Today, options are available. Use
chemicals only when necessary and only according to instructions.
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