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Where’s the science in Ontario’s pesticide ban?


April 17, 2009
By Eleanor Renaud director Ontario Federation of Agriculture

ofa_logoApril 17, 2009 — When a world-recognized expert says “it’s sad that
science and common sense were pushed aside by scare tactics and
emotion,” it certainly reinforces the position taken by the Ontario
Federation of Agriculture on Ontario’s pesticide ban.

ofa_logoApril 17, 2009 — When a world-recognized expert says “it’s sad that science and common sense were pushed aside by scare tactics and emotion,” it certainly reinforces the position taken by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture on Ontario’s pesticide ban.

Dean M. Stanbridge of Milton took strong exception to the Ontario law banning the cosmetic use of pesticides in a recent letter to the Canadian Champion publication. “I’m disturbed to find that an entire industry of this calibre can be essentially disintegrated because of hearsay and rhetoric,” his letter stated, referring to pesticide manufacturers.

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His abilities in the pest management sector were recognized when he was honoured by the Environmental Protection Agency (U.S.) for “using and advocating reduced pesticide methods of pest management” in 2004.

In his letter, Stanbridge said: “This ban will have far-reaching consequences that include documented increases to disease and reduced public health.”

OFA PROMOTED RESPONSIBLE USE OF RESIDENTIAL PESTICIDES
When the province started talking about banning pesticides intended for cosmetic use, the Ontario Federation of Agriculture promoted the responsible use of pesticides based on the model farmers have followed for years. We pointed to the dramatic reduction – more than 50 per cent – in pesticide use by agriculture over more than a decade.

With the ban in place later this month, Ontarians should expect to see a dramatic change in their public spaces. Municipalities that take pride in their green spaces and flower beds will be forced to find alternate ways to grow their flowers and shrubs without traditional pesticides. In Brantford, the foreman of horticulture and turf maintenance said the ban will cost the city $39,000 to control weeds in city parks and flower beds versus $2,800 using currently acceptable pest control products.

Taxpayers will soon have to decide what their priorities are when it comes to weed control in public spaces.

The pesticide ban has generated growing debate relating to lost investment. Dow AgroSciences has initiated a challenge under the North American Free Trade Agreement to Québec’s law banning a specific chemical. 

Under NAFTA, companies can claim that new laws or regulations are indirect expropriation of property without fair compensation. This is something farmers can relate to. This challenge puts the federal government in the ridiculous position of defending a Québec law that prohibits the use of a product Health Canada has declared perfectly safe – a classic example of absurdities created by regulations that are intended to be politically correct rather than science based.

A recent letter from Health Canada to Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment clearly declares Ontario’s Pesticide Classification Guideline to be false when it suggests “unclassified pesticides” can expose humans and the environment to unacceptable risks.

It seems Ontario knows better than the 350 scientists at Health Canada dedicated to the evaluation of pesticides.

And so the outright ban goes into effect instead of the more practical process of educating consumers and applicators on the proper usage of approved products – like farmers do.

FARMING WILL BE AFFECTED IN THE PROVINCE

Agriculture has been given exception status by the legislation banning the use of pesticides. However, the ban will definitely affect agriculture by making pest problems our problems, by limiting new product registrations and by potentially threatening farm usage itself.

We can only hope that homeowners and taxpayers soon realize the absurdity and cost of political correctness and demand science-based regulation of pesticides in Ontario.


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