There is evidence herbicides are associated with diseases
Re: Pesticides are necessary, letter by Ron Bennett, Bruce Mines,
Herbicides are pesticides, a general category, invented only during
the Second World War -- pre-war lawns were herbicide- free. I was
exposed to herbicides for the first time when she was well over 50
years of age.
There is no "rigorous assessment" by the Pest Management Regulatory
Agency (PMRA) before any chemical is approved. Here toxicologists
examine rat data provided by the industry.
With only one epidemiologist on staff, and no mechanism to search and
review epidemiological (human) studies, there is almost no capability
to assess the impact of pesticides on humans, who lack rats'
Only the "active" portion of ready-to-use chemicals is industry
tested. The "inert" portion that may constitute 99 per cent of the
final product is untested.
Herbicides are applied in untested combinations, without any attempt
to determine their individual synergistic (combination- enhanced) and
Meanwhile, there is reliable, science-based evidence, that herbicides
are associated with asthma, autism, ADHD (attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder), in addition to child and other cancers and
neurological diseases such as Parkinson's (an occupational hazard of
Bennett demands a clear proof of pesticide harm. With so-many
chemicals absorbed already in the womb, it would be impossible to
determine exactly the health impact of each chemical. Thus science is
perforce limited to assessing convincing probabilities. This is an
eminently respectable process based on the "precautionary principle."
Clearly, Bill 64 exempts agriculture. Also, bear in mind that food
pesticide residues go directly to the liver, which is the cleansing
organ, while those absorbed via inhalation (e. g. children walking
beside a sprayed lawn) go to the brain.
Obviously, the latter causes the greatest harm.
K. Jean Cottam, PhD, Nepean, Ont
March 12, 2009
Cornwall .Standard Freeholder
Supporters of spraying using twisted logic
The reason we have so many laws in our society is that some human
beings simply don't understand the concept of common sense. Despite
the fact that many municipalities and several countries have already
banned the use of chemicals like 2,4-D; despite all of the documented
information on the dangers to wildlife and humans by independent
scientists, well documented health hazards, and numerous warnings from
virtually all public health agencies, several United Counties council
members have voted in favour of continuing to spray this chemical on
Based on the comments of some of these council members, one is left to
assume that they plan on justifying their actions based on health
reasons. The use of this chemical has been outlawed by the province
for cosmetic purposes for 2009, yet they are prepared to spray a
chemical known to cause birth defects on a plant that occasionally
causes skin rashes of varying degrees of severity. Getting rid of a
nuisance plant is more important than risking birth defects in embryos
of both wildlife and humans. That kind of logic, if you can call it
logic, is totally irresponsible, maybe even criminal.
After several decades of road-side spraying these so-called "noxious"
plants are still with us, and some species are even more common than
they were before the spraying began. There's a good ecological reason
for that if these councillors would take the time to inform
themselves. Like the tobacco industry, the advice and pseudo- research
of the chemical industry has been proven unreliable, over and over
again. Humans can easily learn to identify "poisonous" plants and stay
away from them if they want to play in road-side ditches, just as they
learn to identify and stay away from dangerous animals.
As far as food production is concerned we don't seem to have much
choice yet in using such chemicals, until suitable biological
alternatives are found. Unfortunately we have a serious shortage of
independent scientists working on such problems, world-wide, and our
present governments are cutting rather than increasing spending on
science and scientific research. In the mean time we should be making
the best use of what information we already have, and use some common
It's our children, and especially our grandchildren, who will be
inheriting the problems we've already created.
Roger E. Roy, Long Sault
Comments on Petition to Ban 2,4-D.
Beyond Pesticides submitted comments in support of a petition to
cancel 2,4-D. This widely used herbicide is linked to harmful health
and environmental effects
Sat, Mar 14, 2009
The St. John's Telegram
Time for provincial lawn pesticide regulation
While other provinces in Canada are making great strides towards
protecting human health and the environment, Newfoundland neglects to
enforce rudimentary pesticide regulations. Quebec has proved to...
full text of the article above is not available online at this time
Mar 13, 2009
New pesticide ban will help health, economy
To the editor:
Re: Pesticide ban is a pest: Weed Man rep, March 10.
It's good to hear some lawn-care operators are already using non-toxic
products to control lawn pests. That means the transition to Ontario's
new pesticide law -- the most health protective in North America --
will be smooth.
We also believe the new legislation will be good for business. In the
five years following a pesticide ban in Halifax, the number of lawn-
care firms in the city grew 53 per cent -- from 118 to 180, according
to Statistics Canada.
The number of employees in the sector grew as well.
Statistics Canada also found that the number of lawn-care companies in
Toronto has grown every year since that city brought in a pesticide
bylaw. The new provincial pesticide regulations will not only protect
human health and the environment, they'll also be a boon to our
Canadian Association Physicians for the Environment
Saturday, March 14, 2009
The New Westminster Record
Pesticide bylaw gains support
The majority of residents offering input into a proposed pesticide use
bylaw support the city's stance.
In January, council directed staff to undertake a public consultation
about the proposed pesticide use bylaw, which will be implemented in
March 2010. Under the bylaw, residents are not allowed to apply a
pesticide on private or public land in New Westminster for cosmetic
According to a staff report, the public process included a session on
Feb. 4. Of the 14 forms from residents, 11 residents expressed clear
support for the bylaw. Two respondents were concerned they would no
longer be able to apply strong pesticides to deal with the chafer
beetle infestation on their properties.
Two respondents supported the option of the city allowing professional
applicators to have the ability to control noxious pests with
pesticides if it's necessary.
Following the public process, staff incorporated two changes to the
bylaw from what was previously considered by council:
- The bylaw will take effect on March 1, 2010.
- The bylaw will allow an exemption to account for circumstances where
a severe pest infestation may cause economic hardship related to
property loss for a resident.
"In these rare circumstances, the bylaw permits only an accredited
company to assess the situation and, if necessary, apply treatment,"
said a staff report.
© The Record (New Westminster) 2009
Dioxin Clean-Up Negotiations With Dow Chemical Company Now Open to
(Beyond Pesticides, March 11, 2009) The new administrator of the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lisa Jackson, has put
discussions with Dow Chemical Co. concerning dioxin contamination on
hold, citing a need to have the process open and transparent.
Negotiations with the industry giant began in the mid-1990s over how
to clean-up dioxin contamination along 50 miles of rivers and
floodplains of Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay watershed in Michigan. Dow has
long been accused of moving too slowly to restore the polluted
Ms. Jackson announced her decision last week in a letter to
environmental activists involved with the issue. She also stated that
a team of high-ranking officials from her office would meet shortly
with activist groups, as well as representatives of Dow and the
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The letter states
that the EPA’s regional office in Chicago would not participate in
further negotiations until her team has reported back after its
meetings in Michigan. The meetings are expected to take place next
“My goal is to ensure an expeditious and robust cleanup, and I will
take steps to ensure that the dioxin contamination is addressed in a
manner that is protective of human health and the environment - and
that the process is open and transparent,” Ms. Jackson wrote.
Michelle Hurd Riddick, a member of the Lone Tree Council, a Saginaw-
based group that urged Ms. Jackson to take an interest in the case
shortly after her appointment as EPA administrator in January, said
that her organization was encouraged by Ms. Jackson’s promise of
“meaningful opportunities for public involvement” as the cleanup
blueprint takes shape.
“We have a long history of this company going behind closed doors with
regulators, and every time they do that the watershed loses and public
health loses and the citizens lose,” Ms. Hurd Riddick said. “We’re
very hopeful that it will be different this time.”
DEQ spokesman Robert McCann said it was fair for the new
administration to take time to learn about the situation. “Our hope is
that this review doesn’t slow down the process or require us to put
off any plans for this year,” he said.
Negotiations began in the mid-1990s and still have not produced a
comprehensive restoration plan. As the Bush administration was winding
down in December, the two agencies and the company opened another
round of discussions under a new legal framework they said would make
things run more smoothly but that critics said would enable Dow to cut
a favorable backroom deal.
Dow submitted what it described as a “good faith offer” for moving the
planning forward in February. EPA’s Chicago office was in the process
of evaluating the offer when the order came from headquarters to halt
the discussions. Dow has acknowledged polluting the Tittabawassee and
Saginaw rivers, their floodplains, portions of the city of Midland and
Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay with dioxins for much of the 20th century,
first by dumping liquid wastes and later by incinerating them.
The chemical giant contends the pollution hasn’t harmed people or
wildlife but has spent about $40 million on studies, sediment sampling
and other preliminary work. In 2007, it removed tainted soil from four
highly toxic “hot spots,” one with the highest dioxin levels ever
recorded in the Great Lakes region.
However, the high levels of dioxin and PCBs in the Tittabawassee and
Saginaw rivers have made fish there unsafe to consume. Dioxins, a
family of chemicals linked to cancer, weakened immune systems and
reproductive problems, have been detected at levels as high as 1.6
million parts per trillion (ppt), 20 times higher than any other
levels detected in any U.S. waterway. Michigan state guidelines
require corrective action on contamination above a thousand parts per
trillion. Advisories have previously been issued against eating carp,
catfish, and white bass - fish that feed near the riverbed where
contaminants are buried.
Previous talks with Dow ended unsuccessfully in January 2008 when EPA
determined that Dow’s offers were not comprehensive enough.
Source: Associated Press
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Vegetable gardens a great alternative to grass
by David Hobson
Dig up the lawn and plant potatoes -- some may say might as well, now
that cosmetic lawn chemicals have been banned. Growing vegetables and
the pesticide ban are two stories dominating the gardening news in
Ontario; neither of which is a bad idea.
I confess a bias; I may not have always grown potatoes, but I've
always reserved space for a vegetable garden. As for the chemicals,
I've managed quite well without them. Rather than cover my plot with
manicured grass, I prefer a diverse collection of plants that somehow
seem to keep pests and disease at bay. It's not a perfect system, but
that is the way nature works.
I'll admit my piece of lawn isn't big enough to support a dieting
groundhog, but I am able to keep it weed-free by spending a few
minutes each week checking for weeds and pulling them immediately.
Insects have occasionally been a problem, particularly crane flies,
but like most insects, they arrive in cycles depending on
environmental conditions. When a flock of starlings descends on my
lawn to fight over grubs, I see ecological balance in action.
Some garden chemicals may have been tested and deemed safe by the
producers, but they haven't been tested in combination with the other
250 banned products.
OK, I'm jumping off my planter soap box and back into the garden.
Growing potatoes and vegetables in general is in the news a lot these
days thanks to concerns about the recession. Growing vegetables as
opposed to grass is certainly worthwhile.
Back in October, I described how to prepare soil for a vegetable
garden. It was best done in fall, but in case you missed it, it's not
too late at all. Here are the basics. A vegetable bed needs at least
half a spade depth of soil, but the deeper the better, especially if
you plan on growing really long carrots. Ideally, the soil should be
rich in organic matter, loose and well-drained. If it's heavy clay,
add lots of organic matter like well-rotted grass clippings and
leaves, mature manure, or compost -- same if it is sandy.
Organic matter breaks up clay and helps retain moisture in sandy soil.
Do this early in spring, as soon as the soil is workable and dried out
somewhat. Location is important. Close to the kitchen door is
handiest, but may not be practical. It should receive at least six
hours of sun, preferably closer to 10.
Places to avoid in the garden are areas that become waterlogged after
a heavy rain and excessively windy spots. If this is the first year
for a vegetable garden, start small; it can always be expanded in
later years. Plants like corn, zucchini and even peas take up a lot of
space for the return so start with ones that don't need a large space
like tomatoes, lettuce, beans, beets and carrots.
If you want to encourage children to help, let them plant beets or
radish seed. They're large and easy to handle. When it's harvest time,
turn it into a special occasion and they'll be hooked. Once you've
tasted fresh vegetables grown in your own backyard, you'll appreciate
David Hobson gardens in Waterloo and is happy to answer your garden
questions, preferably by email: email@example.com. Reach him by mail c/o
The Record, 160 King St. E., Kitchener, Ont., N2G 4E5.
March 14, 2009
Spring's environmental informant: the songbird
by Peter Gorrie
Spring can't come quickly enough for Bridget Stutchbury.
"I'm anxiously waiting," says the York University biology professor,
and the excitement in her voice reveals how much of an understatement
But then, she has a bigger than average stake in what comes with the
In April and May, wood thrushes and purple martins will return to
their summer nesting grounds after wintering – what typical Canadians
– in tropical Central and South America. They don't go much farther
north than here, but they're part of the massive migration that takes
some species far up into the boreal forest – flying by the tens of
millions in clouds that show up on radar but are invisible to humans
because the birds travel only when it's dark.
Like happy wanderers, some will arrive with the equivalent of a
knapsack on their back – miniature light-sensing devices that track
where they've been by recording sunrise and sunset each day. Although
these "geolocators" are only accurate to within 100 kilometres or so,
they promise a wealth of new information about the birds' habits and
In 2007, Stutchbury and her students attached the gadgets – about 1.5
grams each – to 14 wood thrushes and 20 purple martins just before the
birds began their long southward migration.
The geolocators don't transmit: The smallest gadgets that could
provide real-time information through satellites weigh as much as a
typical songbird, "so we're not in the ballpark," Stutchbury says.
"Maybe in 10 years."
For now, the only way to obtain the data is to catch the bird. That's
one reason the York group was able to download data from just seven
birds last year. Another is the fact that an increasing proportion of
migratory songbirds do not survive.
Even so, there was enough data for the team to report that the tiny
creatures covered great distances at remarkable speeds. At least one
purple martin averaged 577 kilometres a day on its 7,500-kilometre
flight from Brazil.
Late last summer, the group attached geolocators to another 35 wood
thrushes and 20 purple martins. The major aim is to learn where they
go and, in particular, whether their wintering area is widespread or
confined. That would allow researchers to determine whether the
habitat is threatened by deforestation, development or pollution.
The research includes sub-studies, too. For example, about half of
wood thrushes raise two sets of young during a summer breeding season.
Before they fly south, each bird must replace all of its thousands of
feathers – a process that consumes a huge amount of energy. This and
migration are delayed for the birds with a second brood. Graduate
student Elizabeth Gow is leading the work to figure out whether the
later start imperils the thrushes. Another grad student, Tony Done, is
measuring effects of stress from problems such as lack of food.
All of this matters if, like most people, you love to see and hear
songbirds. The research will help to establish the importance of
preserving and creating places that offer them food and shelter, here
and up north.
Toronto is a crucial resting area after the flight across Lake
Ontario: The birds need green spaces with natural trees and shrubs.
Pesticide-free vegetable gardens also suit them. Their "real enemy,"
Stutchbury says, is "uniform, boring lawns."
Something to think about as spring approaches.
But this is about more than birds. By implication, says Stutchbury,
they tell us to think about the environment on a global scale.
"Migrating songbirds connect our world with the tropics. Their lives
depend on a healthy environment at both ends... Environmental problems
far away affect us here."
Peter Gorrie is the Star's former environment reporter. He can be
reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
March 13, 2009
Thinking of a 'green' spring
By JOE COOPER
I have to say that I have been enjoying watching the big pile of
snow on my front lawn disappear over the past week, thanks to the mini-
heat wave that we had.
Now begins that peculiar non-season which is neither winter nor
spring, but just a big battle between the two until the warm weather
Most people I've talked to are pretty tired of what has been a
very long winter and are really looking forward to seeing leaves on
trees and flowers in bloom once again.
Even though it is only the middle of March, it is worthwhile
thinking about what we will be doing outdoors once spring comes.
One thing that is very much part of East York is our community's
wonderful tradition of gardening, which is a delight for everyone.
However, in saying that, one thing that is definitely changing is
how people define what a garden is, or more importantly, what
constitutes a front lawn.
This year I am seriously considering removing my front lawn
completely and replacing it with ground cover, as many of my
neighbours have done already.
The truth is that we've come to equate the use of grass as a
ground cover as being "normal", to the point where anything else looks
strange or different to many people.
The problem with a grass-based lawn is that it requires a high
level of maintenance in order to keep it looking at its best during
the warm weather.
Being the time-challenged society that we are, many people have
tended to take short cuts in their lawn maintenance in order to save
As a result, many people have come to depend upon gas lawn mowers
to cut their lawns and chemicals to keep weeds under control.
Worse, we've been sold on the idea that the only way that you can
keep your grass looking good is by using these environmentally unsound
Today, the City of Toronto has some very wise bylaws in place that
restricts the use of pesticides on public and private property.
This includes any product designed to kill plants, insects or
plant disease (including fungi), with serious fines for their use.
For example, you can be fined $225 for a simple offence, or be
fined up to $5,000 for something more serious.
You can also face fines if the lawn care company you have hired
violates the bylaw, no matter what kind of property you own.
You can achieve a healthy and good-looking lawn with less work
than you may realize if you take time to find out how to do it right.
Check on the City of Toronto website (www.toronto.ca) for more
information or drop by your local public library for books or
pamphlets on natural lawn maintenance.
Better still, use alternative plants for ground cover that require
little or no maintenance and look just as good as a traditional lawn.
So let's see East York really go "green" this coming spring and
summer in a natural way.
Mar 13, 2009
No gypsy moth spraying this year: city
By Jason Misner, Post Staff
The city is pulling back its troops in the war against the pesky gypsy
There won’t be another year of gypsy moth aerial spraying in
Burlington. The city’s forestry experts say the most recent loss of
leaves on various trees in parts of Burlington are not serious enough
to warrant a second season of spraying to kill the pesky gypsy moth.
The city’s community and corporate services committee recently
approved a report confirming there would be no spraying application
made this year to address what appears to be a falling gypsy moth
Last spring, the city sprayed six areas on two occasions with a safe-
to-human pesticide called Btk. The trees were reviewed in July and
staff found that defoliation was down significantly. Of the 60 trees
evaluated, a little more than three-quarters of them had less than
five per cent defoliation and the remainder less than a quarter
defoliation. Field surveys of the areas sprayed, as well as the
evaluation of six other parks, in November 2008 and again this past
January, showed no large-scale gypsy moth population.
Initial 2008 field studies and a visual aerial defoliation survey
showed an “apparent collapse” in the gypsy moth population, stated a
staff report authored by John Duncan, the city’s manager of field
The collapse, he explained, is likely the result of a combination of
the application of Btk, cool weather and the presence of natural
occurring pathogens fatal to gypsy moth larvae, like a specific virus
and fungus. Gypsy moths are not new to Burlington, having been around
“Based on the assessment data collected, high levels of defoliation
are not being forecasted and tree health should not be challenged,”
said the report. “...the defoliation forecast is nil to light
defoliation on some trees.”
The plan to refrain from spraying won’t change, Duncan said in an
interview, based on the leaf and egg surveys completed by the city.
Last May, the city conducted a $250,000 aerial spray assault of
municipal parks and golf courses to control the leaf-hungry
caterpillar stage of gypsy moths.
It did so with the fear that if the gypsy moth caterpillars aren’t
controlled immediately, there was the risk that many trees, especially
in municipal parks and golf courses, would weaken and eventually die
once the leaves had been eaten.
The caterpillars love oak trees, in particular, say staff. Oaks are
hearty, long-standing trees and the city wants to keep them as healthy
as possible for years to come.
Gypsy moths cannot be eradicated but rather managed within acceptable
limits, according to staff. History has shown the populations tend to
rise and collapse over a period of years and it is reasonable to
conclude that the gypsy moth populations will continue this cyclical
pattern in the future, according to Duncan’s report.
That’s why the city is urging residents to help by scraping egg masses
and burlap banding trees on their property. The burlap banding method
requires daily removal and proper disposal of the trapped larvae.
Staff point out the gypsy moth represents only one insect species that
threatens the health of forests. More devastating invasive species
like the Emerald Ash Borer, Asian Longhorned Beetle and Sirex Wood
Wasp are killing Ontario trees. The city says it’s watching all of
these insect populations closely.
Warning Industry Propaganda Below
March 13, 2009
Nepean This Week
Letter to the editor
Pesticide ban short-sighted
BY Special to This Week
To the editor,
It’s a shame that the Ontario government is unwilling to do the hard
work of giving due consideration to the many sides of a thorny issue
when there is a vocal minority to appease. Such is the case with
Ontario’s decision to ban pesticide use on lawns and gardens – a
decision that is both short-sighted and misguided.
Pesticides are ably regulated by Health Canada and they exist to give
Canadians safe and effective tools for dealing with pest problems.
Contrary to what some say, there is nothing “cosmetic” about these
products being used appropriately to protect people, property or
Pesticides help to enhance Canadians’ quality of life. Too bad the
Ontario government has chosen to ignore that fact.
President, CropLife Canada
Friday, March 13, 2009
New beetle infestation hits Toronto
It started with a leisurely drive along what was once a beautiful tree-
A stretch of 'ash' trees - destroyed by the city - in an effort to try
and stop an invasive species of beetles.
The 'Emerald Ash Borer' has become the latest natural nuisance - now
threatening the canopy in Toronto - and beyond. The Ash Borer bug was
first discovered by Ontario scientists in 2007 when they came across
tiny tunnels beneath some bark. A pesticide called Neem has been
developed to try and halt the spread - but there's no guarantee.
It isn't the first time beetles have posed a problem for naturalists
either. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has fought the Asian Long
Horned Beetle for years.
Until that happens, residents in the GTA - and throughout the province
- will simply have to hope trees in their area aren't targeted.
If you think you may have an issue or would like more info, visit
© Broadcasting 2009
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