Turf & Rec

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B.C. legislators caved in to industry, rejected findings of independent science


August 10, 2012
By Mike Jiggens


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Letter to the editor

Re: "Some good news, finally, regarding B.C.’s pesticide use” by Mike
Jiggens; “No pesticide ban in B.C., committee recommends,” both
published in the June 2012 issue of Turf and Recreation magazine.

It is clear to the independent observer outside B.C. such as myself (I am retired public servant familiar with the federal pesticide approval process) that the committee caved in to the industry’s demands and rejected the findings of independent science.

They were all mesmerized by the so-called expertise of Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) and its pesticide approval process which seems wonderful on paper. Never mind that the PMRA has no labs of its own and is fully dependent on toxicological studies submitted by the industry, with inconvenient data withheld. Also bear in mind that rats have detoxification genes missing in humans. Moreover, the PMRA is notoriously weak in examining epidemiological studies.

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What has been recommended by the B.C. committee “makes perfect sense” only to those with vested interest in the status quo (the proposed changes in B.C.’s management of pesticides will have a virtually imperceptible effect). In contrast, a majority of Ontario citizens are grateful to our legislators that they rose above the vested interest of our pesticide applicators.

Blaming the average Joe for applying pesticides incorrectly and thereby inviting pesticide bans is not the answer. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that pesticides do cause harm, even if applied “correctly.”

In Ontario, Ted Chudleigh’s amendment to the Ontario ban, which would have allowed application of pesticides by so-called professionals, was defeated. (Ted Chudleigh is Halton’s Progressive Conservative MPP.) The Ontario citizens’ reaction to the bill’s defeat speaks volumes.

After all, pesticides do not cease to be toxic when applied by so-called professionals.

What happened in B.C. can hardly be attributed to “science and common sense,” but rather to a strong influence of professional pesticide applicators and the evident pro-industry bias of the committee, whose members and chair rejected all independent science-based opinions.

Mr. Jiggens suggests that the B.C. decision not to ban pesticides was also motivated by the need not to jeopardize tourist-generated revenues.

Was the health of B.C. inhabitants sacrificed to the alleged preferences of the American tourist?

I have never heard of anyone choosing their holidays on the basis of the state of lawns in the destination country! In fact, many countries’ tourists have no lawns. I happen to reside in an Ottawa’s suburb where weed-infested lawns are seldom to be found.

You say, “Somewhere along the line, commons sense has to prevail… Now it’s Ontario turn to right a wrong.” A wrong to whom? Certainly not to a homeowner with an attractive lawn maintained without the use of pesticides such as myself.

K. Jean Cottam, PhD
Nepean (Ottawa), Ont.