Saturday, March 28, 2009

A reasoned response to the Ontario ban

On April 22 homeowners and landscape professionals will no longer be allowed to use about 250 chemical products on their landscapes or lawns in Ontario, the most populous province in Canada. Ontario is following the lead of Quebec Province, which took a similar action earlier this decade. Other Canadian cities and provinces are considering bans of their own on chemical landscape products they feel are being used for "cosmetic purposes" only. These bans typically target residential, school, municipal and commercial properties but not golf courses. Farmers and suppliers to the country's agricultural industry are concerned the anti-pesticide movement within the country will target them next.

Below is a letter that Dean M. Stanbridge, a technical consultant to Pest Management Professional, a sister publication of Landscape Management, sent to a local newspaper in Ontario where he resides. We think he takes a reasoned position to the issue of landscape chemical use. What do you think?

Dear Editor

As a long term resident of Milton, I feel it's time to speak up and set the record straight on the new unconstitutional pesticide ban in the Province of Ontario. Before I begin, I would like to make it clear that I am not a proponent of indiscriminate use of pesticides.

To ensure credibility, I've been an international consultant to the United Nations Environmental Program for over 10 years. My research has been published in numerous countries and won several awards that include being the 2004 recipient of the World's Stratospheric Ozone Protection Award for my work on reducing harmful ozone emissions. I'm familiar with the use of pesticides throughout the world and am a regular speaker on this topic.

Although I agree that steps needed to be taken to address the use of "cosmetic" pesticides, it's a sad state of affairs when science and common sense were pushed aside by scare tactics and emotion. This ban will have far reaching consequences that include documented increases to disease and reduced public health. It's sad that extremists on both sides of this issue couldn't have come to a common ground to provide the groundwork for the support of the "judicious" use of pesticides. This would have immediately reduced the use of pesticides by over 90% and still produced the desired control and protection to public health.

I'm deeply disappointed to know that our Federal Constitution can be so easily disregarded and that an entire layer of government, including hundreds of scientists testing can be ignored by pure emotion and misinformation.

Most Canadians will never understand that Canada is one of the hardest countries in the World to grant a federal registration, its use continues to be monitored and reviewed on a regular basis. If any questionable science is unearthed, the pesticide is immediately re-reviewed and validated. In addition to the rigorous pesticide registration process, each professional applicator must be trained and licensed.
In most Provinces, they must also accumulate continuing education hours in order to maintain their license. No other Canadian industry, including doctors, requires this type of diligence to maintain its standing.

I am disturbed to find that an entire industry of this caliber can be essentially disintegrated because of hearsay and rhetoric. To put thing in perspective, I've spend the past 5 years doing a test on mine and my neighbor's properties. We've applied commonsense and kept our lawns cut longer, fertilized at key times of the season and applied spot applications of pesticides, only when required to control noxious weeds. In total, we've applied less than 12 ml of a highly regulated, approved and scientifically tested pesticide. Our lawns are the best on the street and yes I encourage my young children to play on them.

To further that perspective, the average vehicle leaks approximately 1 liter of an unknown mix of oils, gas, antifreeze and other liquids per year. the combination of these fluids are neither tested, regulated or registered and, no, I would never permit my children to play in or around any ditch or ground water anywhere near a road or parking lot.

Before we condemn a highly regulated industry, let's take a good look at our own backyards or in this case our driveways.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Ontario ban has nothing to do with political correctness, but everything to do with the Ontario government being compelled to step into the regulatory void at the federal level in order to protect Ontario citizens against the unwarranted cancer risk, endocrine disruption, neurological disorders, neurodevelopment problems and damage to immune and reproductive systems linked to unnecessary exposures to pesticides. What is this supposedly science-based regulation that is being promoted by the industry and their friends at Health Canada? This is making the industry's interests paramount regardless of their impact on public health in Ontario. We have especially the health of young children in mind, whose life expectancy, due to their unnecessary toxic exposures, is estimated to be shorter than that of the older generations. Children's alleged exposure to car fluids doesn't in the least compare to their exposure to toxic lawn chemicals.