IEPMA pushes for 'proper use' initiative vs. outright ban of pesticide products in B.C.

Mike Jiggens
January 05, 2010
By
AS turfgrass management professionals in British Columbia brace themselves for the possibility of a province-wide ban on certain pest control products, organizations such as the Integrated Environmental Plant Management Association (IEPMA) of Western Canada are hoping to launch a pre-emptive strike, urging  those in the industry to sign a petition in support of the proper use of pesticides vs. an outright ban. The petition can be accessed at www.iepma.ca/noban.html.
In early November, the Western Canada Turfgrass Association (WCTA) forwarded to its members an email from IEPMA’s communications director John Holland, which reads:

“Late yesterday, I was emailed the following question from one of our members who had received my latest email: ‘Do you have suggestions on how to get fence sitters to become involved? That is those who think it is inevitable. Or that this petition does not matter.’

“I think this is a very good question, even though I do not have a definite answer on how to get the fence sitters involved. It is difficult to convince everyone in our membership—and others with whom I correspond—to do something, even if it is in their own best interest. A case in point is our online petition. In case some of you have not yet realized it, the guillotine is over your heads and could soon be crashing down if we do nothing.

“However, the situation need not be terminal, particularly if we all pitch in to do what we can.

“I met last week with Steve Thomson, the B.C. minister of agriculture, and we talked for about an hour. Minister Thomson has a background in farming and has been chairman of B.C. Tree Fruits, so should have no reason to be anti-pesticide. He told me that no decision has been made on the use of ‘cosmetic’ pesticides, and that the subject has not yet been discussed in cabinet. He also says that Gary Penner (minister of the environment) usually goes with the science. One of our members also met, on our behalf, with Bill Bennett (minister of community and rural affairs) and got a similar story.

“However, there is obviously a lot of pressure being put on the B.C. Government by the Canadian Cancer Society, the Suzuki Organization, Toxic Free Canada, and other uninformed and biased anti-pesticide groups. Do I think our petition alone will be what makes the Government decide in our favour? No, but it certainly is a way to show that more people are willing to complete a petition against a ban than there are those who would do so for the opposite side. It is just one of the ways for us to be as pro-active and vocal as our opponents.

“This petition is not the only way the IEPMA plans to get involved, or has been involved. As I have mentioned, there have been meetings with cabinet members. I have forwarded information to Government members. The IEPMA has been assured it will be a stakeholder in any discussions taking place about ‘cosmetic’ pesticides. We have put together a terrific conference for Jan. 28-29, and are bringing together pesticide experts and scientists from across Canada to discuss the scientific truth about pesticides (I will be forwarding the agenda by the middle of November—please plan to attend). Most of you have seen the letters I have written to the Canadian Cancer Society—letters, as it turns out, that have been forwarded by others to hundreds of people across Canada, including Government officials, some of whom have taken the time to thank me for putting the information together. There are still other things going on that I can’t discuss at the moment.

“I have spent many hundreds of hours this year alone trying to put information together about the real science behind pesticides, making Power Point presentations to various groups (including municipal councils) around B.C., and corresponding with scientists around the world. In September, I took part—at the request of the PMRA—in a panel discussion on ‘cosmetic’ pesticide bans at the annual Federal/Provincial/Territorial Health Canada meeting in Winnipeg. I made a number of good contacts, and had discussions with many people from regulatory agencies across Canada. No one I spoke to was in favour of banning pesticides—except, of course, the few from anti-pesticide groups that had also been invited.

“The bottom line: our petition does matter, but it is only a small part of what we are undertaking. If you are one of those sitting on the fence, then it is time to take a stand and do something. All I have asked you to do so far is merely get supporters to fill in a two-minute online petition, or to have you collect the forms that allow you to do it for customers or friends.

“I have been retired for five years and, like the rest of the IEPMA executive, do not get paid for what I do. It is your livelihood, not mine, that is being threatened by know-nothings and charlatans. The battle will certainly be lost if we do nothing, sit on the fence, and allow those emotionally opposed to pesticides to run the circus.

“It is apathy that can defeat us.

“P.S. Thank you to those who have taken the effort to get others to join our petition.”

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