Turf & Rec

News
Are we beating to death this whole issue of pesticides?


June 17, 2009
By Mike Jiggens

A quick look back at our past seven issues (a full year’s worth of Turf & Recreation) confirmed my suspicion that I’ve had a one-track mind in the editorial-writing department for the past year.

Everything I’ve written, save for a little bit of space in March to promote our new and improved website, has dealt with the issue of pesticides in one manner or another. Whether it was the coming Ontario-wide cosmetic pesticide ban, its official arrival, or the pending ban New Brunswickers are facing, I’ve chosen to sound off on it on this particular page.

Certainly there are other issues of interest facing the turfgrass industry. The current state of the economy is one of them. Or what about the humanitarian efforts of a group of Canadian Nutri-Lawn personnel who recently constructed a new soccer field at an orphanage in the Dominican Republic? Be sure to read about their efforts on page 12.

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As far as the pesticide issue is concerned, it’s difficult to ignore it
and, therefore, the temptation exists to continually add another two
cents’ worth toward it. Several lawn care companies in Ontario have
accepted that what’s done is done, and they have chosen to move forward
and prosper in a pesticide-free world. The aforementioned Nutri-Lawn
company is one of them.

To those who have embraced acceptance and who have the confidence to
move forward, bravo. Others are still feeling the sting and may still
have doubts about being able to make a go of it. Hopefully it won’t be
as bad as all that.

For the moment at least, the golf industry in Ontario is enjoying an
exception with the new legislation. Some, however, are warning the
honeymoon may not last very long. One such soothsayer is columnist
William Gathercole, who predicts golf’s exception status could end in
as near as three to five years. He says all the warning signs are in
place, and golf should ban together with its lawn care brethren in
order to put up a stronger fight against the activists.

What is particularly frightening is the possibility of a nation-wide
ban on cosmetic pesticide use which could be all-encompassing. This
would be the will of the New Democratic Party if it should one day be
elected to power. We’ve never had an NDP government federally elected
in our history, but anything is possible.

For now, the golf industry—at least in Ontario—must comply with the
rules set forth in the Ontario Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Act in order to
maintain its exception status. Avoid making waves and demonstrate that
every effort is being made to make your property as
environmentally-friendly as possible. Hide nothing from the public. Let
the activists still living in the past know that the golf industry has
come a long way during the past few decades, and that superintendents
are much better educated than ever before about what is right and wrong
for the environment.

Will this be the last time I harp about issues that are pesticide-related? I doubt it.

Stay tuned next issue.