Government Affairs
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.
CONTINUED use of the fungicide quintozene on turfgrass may be in jeopardy if the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) follows through on its proposal to remove all turf uses from its label. The PMRA is re-evaluating quintozene (PCNB) and has based its proposal on the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States’ re-evaluation document (RED) from 2006.
Introduction The golf industry exception In order to retain its prohibition exception status in Ontario and Quebec, the golf industry must provide the public, as well as the government, with information supporting the idea that its innovative management practices may reduce the use of pest control products. In the province of Ontario, a requirement for this golf industry exception is the annual report that must be submitted by individual golf clubs.
The parks coordinator for the Town of Ajax, Ont. says the recently-imposed ban on cosmetic pest control products in the province will result in an increase in the municipal budget so that many weeds can be pulled by hand. Tim Murphy said the use of alternative products is resulting in only about a 50 per cent kill rate. FULL STORY
Lawn sprinkling has been banned for the time being in Abbotsford, B.C. while the community copes with a record heat wave. Water in reservoirs is needed in the event of fighting fires. The city is finding it difficult to obtain water from the nearby mountains to keep reservoir levels healthy. FULL STORY
“Golf courses are often also as unnaturally pumped–up as a steroid–addled East German shot putter.” — The official position of the U.S. Sierra Club in 2007. In spite of its exception status in Ontario and Quebec, we will nevertheless repeat our warning to the golf industry. It should not feel too smug about its exception from either the Ontario or the Quebec prohibitions. Government conditions will be attached to this exception. These conditions will soon grow exponentially and become unreasonable. The exception status will very likely be withdrawn within three to five years. The only long-term hope for the golf industry is a strong coalition with the rest of the green space industry that utterly opposes the Ontario Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act.
Ms. Barbara Kaminsky CEO, Canadian Cancer Society British Columbia/Yukon Ms. Kaminsky: I have been following he Canadian Cancer Societiy campaign to ban "cosmetic" pesticides with great interest and even greater dismay. The position the Society is taking has no basis in real science, and its ramifications are likely to cost more in illness than it prevents. I have in the past respected the aims of the Society, but I find that its position on this issue is devoid of any scientific rationale. (Please click on the PDF to read the entire letter.)
To paraphrase the words of former U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt—April 22, 2009—another date which will live in the period of environmental infamy—the full force of the Ontario Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act came into effect. The professional lawn care industry has been selectively and deliberately stripped of its conventional pest control tools by the Government of Ontario on the pretext that children needed to be protected by products evaluated by a small group of health care workers who have no expertise whatsoever in matters relating to pest control products. The massive and detailed studies of “sound science” performed by Health Canada are annihilated and discredited by those very same health care workers, who have decided to set their own agendas for conspiring to change public policy regarding pest control products.
We are now living in the era of “9–11 of the green space industry.” The prohibition conspiracy against pest control products has now attained national proportions. The provinces are falling like dominoes. The professional lawn care industry is systematically being annihilated across Canada. Our adversaries in the environmental movement have virtually limitless funds to wreak their havoc, and they understand full well that there is no unity within the green space industry.   First municipal, then provincial, and finally national in scope, their first destructive attack will be complete within one or two years. And then. Soon after the environmental movement has tasted victory by obliterating the professional lawn care industry, the hated golf course industry will be targeted in the next attack. This time, the golf industry will be totally alone, and devoid of any allies to help defend itself. The golf industry, because of its attitude of denial and protectionism and mock–dismay at any form of criticism, is ignoring the supreme historic opportunity to join forces with the professional lawn care industry, and litigate against the forces of environmentalist evil.
A consulting investigator leading the fight against Ontario’s cosmetic pesticide ban is advocating the launch of lawsuits against municipalities which plan to restrict the use of local pesticide use. Jeffrey Lowes, director of government and industrial relations for M-REP Communications in Kingston, Ont., recently told the Integrated and Environmental Plant Management Association in Kelowna, B.C. that council members who claim chemical pest control products are detrimental to the environment and public health should be sued. He said such claims by local politicians and environmental activists are based on fraudelent information, adding 2,4-D is perhaps the safest product an applicator can use. Although Ontario and Quebec have implemented province-wide bans on cosmetic pesticide use, bans or restrictions elsewhere across Canada are at the discretion of local municipalities. In Kelowna, a new bylaw has taken effect which bans pesticide use for cosmetic purposes, except those applied by trained and licensed applicators. In a Feb. 8 letter to the editor of The Okanagan, Lowes wrote, “Products used by the industry and in the hands of a professional are safe.” He added, “Regardless of whether the product is natural or not, science—and not public opinion—will dictate what is used. There is a danger of having public policy based on a belief system that is unsupported by fact.” Lowes is representing the Professional Lawn Care Association of Ontario in its fight against the Ontario government.
THE new cosmetic pesticide ban in Ontario will severely impact the lives and livelihoods of several Landscape Ontario members, their employees and families, Landscape Ontario executive director Tony DiGiovanni says. Approximately 1,300 lawn care companies employing 15,000 licensed applicators and 5,000 technicians will be affected by the ban. "These are real numbers representing real people," DiGiovanni said. Landscape Ontario originally gave conditional support to the cosmetic ban, provided the regulations allowed limited use of products to deal with infestations and integrated pest management accreditation. The association withdrew its support when the draft regulations were announced. "The proposed regulations risk more than these 20,000 Ontario jobs," DiGiovanni said. "By providing no solution to control damaging landscape infestations, these regulations say to the Ontario public that our lawns and gardens are a non-essential part of our environment. While skilled workers join Ontario's growing ranks of unemployed, frustrated homeowners will see the destruction of their lawns and landscapes, requiring unmanageable and avoidable renovation costs. In addition, the lawn destruction risked by these regulations will lead to increased soil erosion and a reduction in important carbon sinks in our built environments." The approach proposed by industry professionals would drastically reduce pesticide risk while protecting our green infrastructure and allowing the development of better products and processes, DiGiovanni contends. "The industry and activists are really not far apart. We all want a safe, prosperous world with a clean and healthy environment. Green industry members believe in environmental activism, and improve and enhance the environment every day through their occupations. Let's work together to promote effective lawn care practices and to encourage the introduction of better products."
During the proceedings in 2001, Bastarache asked the question: "If we allow the right to sell cigarettes, does this mean we cannot prevent its sale in schools?" The CropLife-Toronto affair was botched, as well as cursed with bad luck. What does the future hold for the green space industry? We will conclude this article with a few predictions. The following are two likely scenarios that may occur in the green space industry. • Scenario No. 1. Litigation. The Professional Lawn Care Association of Ontario will eventually move to a class action suit to legally challenge the prohibitions of pest control products. An injunction will be sought for all prohibitions. Landscape Ontario will pursue the restitution of losses to the industry. The Canadian Golf Superintendents Association (CGSA) will struggle in vain to maintain its exception status, which will be lost within three to five years. The CGSA will be forced to join the litigation battle with the PLCAO. One of the four litigation groups within the environmental movement, probably EcoJustice Canada, will intervene with their legal expertise. As a result of uncertainty regarding the success of litigation and injunctions, there will be a series of shortages of pest control products needed by the green space industry. • Scenario No. 2. Retaliation. The industry will forfeit its long-standing provincial infrastructures. A lawsuit threatening the Government of Ontario will lead to retaliatory action. The Professional Lawn Care Association of Ontario will be forced to vacate the premises it now occupies at the Guelph Turfgrass Institute. Support from many provincial government agencies will be curtailed, or eliminated, including the University of Guelph and other agencies that have been closely allied with the green space industry. Our friends and associates who work for these agencies will be told to "tow the party line, or else ..." If they do not comply, they will risk losing their employment, their careers, and their pensions. They will be forced to become the instruments of policy and enforcement against the green space industry. Ultimately, technical and educational expertise will be lost in Ontario, and sought elsewhere through private or federal agencies, or U.S.-based organizations. The Government of Ontario will irreversibly damage the agencies that formerly supported the green space industry. About the principal author William H. Gathercole has been following the evolution of the green space industry for more than a quarter-century. He holds a degree in horticulture from the University of Guelph, and another pure and applied science degree from McGill University. He has worked in virtually all aspects of the green space industry, including public relations and environmental safety. Mr. Gathercole has been a consultant, instructor, and writer for decades. He is a regular contributing columnist for Turf & Recreation. Personal note and disclaimer In sickness or in health, with the help of his entourage, we still hope to keep all of our readers entertained and informed. Bill continues to recover from his serious motor vehicle accident. In order to complete this particular article, it has been co-authored with Norah G. Well wishers may send a personal note to Bill by way of this magazine, or at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . By the way, the opinions expressed in this article, even though from an independent perspective, may not reflect those of Turf & Recreation.
According to Yosemite Sam, the animated cartoon character that was first introduced by Warner Brothers in 1945, "Ya doggone idgit galut, you'll blow the ship to smitherines!" And The Axis of Environmental Evil is succeeding in blowing up the green space industry as well. The Government of Ontario, in collaboration with its allies in the environmental movement, and the organizations that fund environmental advocacy, constitute The Axis Of Environmental Evil. This conspiracy overtly threatens to annihilate the green space industry with a vision of prohibiting so-called cosmetic pesticides from the face of the planet. The future looks bleak since the problem is spreading. We have been receiving lots of questions and comments from readers regarding the issues concerning the Ontario Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Act. We decided to encompass them into the following article. What is the definition of the term cosmetic pesticide? The debate as to what products can fairly be defined as cosmetic could go on ad nauseum. The term "cosmetic pesticide" has been defined as any pest control product used to improve appearance or aesthetics. But we think the definition has gone further than this. And all of this may open the door to legal challenge. The Government of Ontario has unofficially defined cosmetic pesticides to include any conventional pest control product used by the professional lawn care industry that, in an arbitrary fashion, it deems as unnecessary. Here is a personal communication that we received from the office John Gerretsen, the Ontario Minister of the Environment, on the matter of defining cosmetic pesticides, as well as alternatives to conventional pest control products: "The use of conventional pesticides for cosmetic purposes is an unnecessary and potential risk. The Ontario Government is providing funding to encourage the development of lower risk pesticides to support the transition from conventional pesticides to green alternatives that are better for the environment and the health of Ontario families." The trade association Landscape Ontario has also attempted to define the term cosmetic pesticides. Here it is. "In our view, insect infestations which threaten the very existence of a lawn, garden or trees go well beyond cosmetic. The regulation should allow for the use of a limited number of essential products in defined circumstances of infestation." In addition, Landscape Ontario has proposed that only three active ingredients be deemed as essential for special situations involving destructive pests. These include deltamethrin (DeltaGard), imidacloprid (Merit), and pyrethrins. Did anyone think about weed control products? What about weed control products? Even within the confines of the green space industry, there appears to be little harmonization regarding the use of weed control products. We must not forget that weed control is part of the three maintenance cornerstones that must be provided to satisfy a professional lawn care customer. The cornerstones for professional lawn care: • A customer must be provided with a thick lawn. • A customer must be provided with a green lawn. • A customer must be provided with a weed-free lawn. The rule for professional weed control. Additionally, we must not forget the rule for adequate broad-leaved weed control: For established customers with a well-maintained lawn, two to 21/2 applications of a three-way herbicide are required per season for adequate broad-leaved weed control. It is doubtful that many trade organizations will ever defend the above cornerstones and rule. On the matter of weed control, Landscape Ontario has preferred to remain politically-correct with a statement like the following: "As professional turf managers, it is our contention that the best defense (sic) against weed invasion is a thick, healthy stand of turf." Is Ontario allowed to legislate a prohibition against pesticides? The short answer is yes. The Government of Ontario can legislate whatever it wants. And it can do this based upon any type of justification. Most people will agree that the Government of Ontario has not responsibly relied upon the recognized, legitimate, and technical expertise of the Canadian federal government, but instead has availed itself to the scare-mongering of environmental groups and health worker trade associations. This error by the Government of Ontario will render its legislation susceptible to legal challenges. The Government of Ontario has also maliciously manipulated the public perception of pest control products by directly financing environmental groups and health worker trade associations that sought to change public policy regarding the prohibition of pest control products. This is another error that can lead to legal challenges. How does Ontario directly finance the environmental movement? Of all the sources of funding to the environmental movement, the grants originating from the Government of Ontario are the most unethical and the most unfair to the green space industry. Many groups in the environmental movement are directly financed with tax dollars, through agencies such as The Trillium Foundation. In other words, tax-paying employees and companies in the green space industry are unknowingly contributing to their eventual annihilation. Wouldn't the Ontario prohibition reduce the risks to public health? The Government of Ontario has failed to diminish the so-called risk to public health with the proposed alternatives to conventional pest control products. In fact, some alternatives are even higher-risk. This will be discussed in a later segment. The Government of Ontario is only now providing funding for the so-called low-risk green alternatives, and, in an untimely fashion, only after it has banned conventional pest control products. Another error that can lead to legal challenges. Will there be losses of employment with the Ontario prohibition? Of course. The Government of Ontario has irresponsibly made no provisions for job losses and small business failures that will occur as a direct result of the prohibition. The Government of Ontario has actually allocated more than $10 million over four years in support of its prohibition, but has announced no plans as to how this money can be used to aid those in the professional lawn care industry that become unemployed or bankrupt as a result of the prohibition. The Government of Ontario has left itself open to legal action from an industry that will seek restitution for damages. This appears to be an area of interest to Landscape Ontario. What about an exception status to the Ontario prohibition? On Nov. 7, 2008, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment issued a Fact Sheet entitled "Implementing the Cosmetic Pesticides Ban." Here is an excerpt: "There are no exceptions for pest infestations (insects, fungi or weeds) on lawns, gardens, parks, school yards, cemeteries and other outdoor areas to which the ban applies, as lower risk alternatives currently exist." More on this later. We can all agree that the Government of Ontario has unfairly discriminated against the professional lawn care industry by providing exceptions to the following groups: agriculture, cricket, croquet, extermination, forestry, golf courses, lawn bowling, lawn tennis, sod growers, sports fields. Why are certain groups provided with an exception status in Ontario? Because certain groups evidently do not use pest control products for cosmetic purposes. The term "cosmetic" implies a process of making things look good. Growers evidently do not grow crops to make them look good at fresh market. Sod growers evidently do not grow sod to look good at the time of laying. Golf course superintendents evidently do not manage a golf course to look good for the players. Let's ask the question again. Why are certain groups provided with an exception status? Evidently because these groups do not use pest control products for cosmetic purposes. For baseball, bowling, cricket, croquet, football, golf, and tennis, pest control products are used primarily to enhance performance standards. The aesthetic standards are evidently secondary. Let's ask the question yet again. Why are certain groups provided with an exception status? One report from the environmental movement has claimed naively that "farmers and managed forests will be exempt as they are already governed by strict rules for pesticide use." One more time. Why are certain groups provided with an exception status? The Government of Ontario has issued the following statements regarding the agriculture and forestry exception: "The MOE (Ministry of the Environment) also recognizes that the use of pesticides in forestry and agriculture is not to improve appearance or aesthetics and these uses are therefore not included in the prohibition." One last time. Why are certain groups provided with an exception status? According to the Government of Ontario: "Pesticide uses in agriculture are excepted from the prohibition. The ministry recognizes that pesticides are used in agriculture to protect and enhance the reliability of commercial food production and make food products more affordable." What are the reasons for the golf industry exception in Ontario? Why has the golf course industry been provided with an exception status? Answer. At this time, the golf course industry is more influential, and carries a lot more weight. Just to make sure that there is no misunderstanding, we believe that the golf exception was rightly earned, based upon seven very legitimate strengths. Here are the seven strengths of the golf course industry that likely led to its exception status: Strength No. 1: Tradition. The golf course industry is steeped in very old tradition since it has been maintaining green spaces for more than five centuries. Furthermore, the tradition of playing golf is attractive to the political leaders and power brokers in our society, who usually play the game at some of the most prestigious golf facilities. By contrast, the modern professional lawn care industry is less than 35 years old, and does not have a long historic tradition. Strength No. 2: Number of customers. The golf industry has 2.3 million golfers in Ontario, and six million across Canada. By contrast, the professional lawn care industry, though a plethora of services, has less than one million customers in Ontario. Strength No. 3: Number of dollars. The golf industry represents more than $4 billion in business per year in Ontario, and $13 billion across Canada. By contrast, the professional lawn care industry in Ontario has sales of approximately $300 million per year, not counting value-added products and services or grounds maintenance services. Strength No. 4: Public scrutiny. The golf course industry has not been under negative public scrutiny for the last 25 years, at least not to the same level of destructiveness as the professional lawn care industry. Strength No. 5: Public affairs. In 2008, the golf course industry impressed the Government of Ontario with an impeccable public affairs effort. Golf course employees, owners, and golfers provided comments or signed petitions in support of an exception. They submitted a total of 1,316 signatures! Strength No. 6: Giving back. The golf industry traditionally takes part in many important philanthropic events, and support local charities. (Of course, so did the cigarette industry.) A famous example of a charity event hosted by a golf club is the 2003 Courtnall Celebrity Classic. This event was played at The Victoria Golf Club, Vancouver Island, B.C. The guest celebrities included Wayne Gretzky, Pamela Anderson, Kid Rock, Keifer Sutherland, and dozens of sports and show business stars. The weekend tournament helped raise more than $2 million for mental health research. Strength No. 7: Maintenance standards. The golf course industry has no uniform, or absolute, standards of maintenance to judge against, unlike the professional lawn care industry. The golf course industry has complicated high performance standards which are difficult to comprehend, especially with the use of fungicides. The professional lawn care industry has the less complicated maintenance cornerstones that were described earlier in this article. On the matter of maintenance standards, the Government of Ontario has stated: "The MOE recognizes that golf courses require high performance standards for the playing surfaces and require some pesticide use to achieve such standards. The exception to the prohibition on the use of prescribed pesticides on golf courses is conditional upon complying with certain requirements. Prescribed conditions will be considered in the development of the regulations required to make the prohibition operable." What are the lower-risk alternatives to conventional pest control products? The so-called lower-risk alternatives, or green alternatives, that are being proposed to replace conventional pest control products are not all as low risk or non-toxic as some people assume them to be. Nor are these products as efficient or efficacious as we are being led to believe. Nonetheless, the Government of Ontario will likely adopt some or all of the following criteria regarding products acceptable under its prohibition, using the relentlessly-flawed use of logic and facts: • The green alternative must be biological. • The green alternative must be arbitrarily ecological. • The green alternative must be natural. • The green alternative must be arbitrarily non-cosmetic. • The green alternative must be non-synthetic. • The green alternative must be allegedly non-toxic. • The green alternative must be organic. • The green alternative must be allegedly reduced-risk. In the fertilizer industry, many of the above criteria have been in use for municipal quotations and for organic and organic-based products for almost two decades. However, the issues are not quite so clear-cut for pest control products. What are examples of the so-called green alternatives? The Government of Ontario and the environmental movement have both given everyone the impression that there is a full array of equivalent green alternatives that are safer, and just as effective, as the conventional products. What follows are descriptions of so-called organic/natural/biological/ecological products that are being recommended, or implied as effective, as well as allegedly low-risk, for the control of turfgrass and ornamental pests. Many are not even registered for the control of turfgrass pests. • Acetic acid. Product description. This product is also called horticultural vinegar and ethanoic acid. An ecological and synthetic herbicide that is not derived from any natural materials. Nevertheless, acetic acid is acceptable to the environmental movement as a so-called low-risk green alternative to conventional herbicides that contain 2,4-D. Oddly enough, 2,4-D is also a form of acetic acid. Acetic acid acts as a non-selective and post-emergent weed control product. It will destroy desirable turf as well as weeds. Consequently, it may not necessarily be considered as a more effective alternative to herbicides such as 2,4-D. • Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.). Product description. This product is classified as a bio-pesticide or biological or natural insecticide. It is used to control leaf-chewing caterpillars in ornamental plants and horticultural crops. It is not registered for the control of turf insects. • Boric acid. Product description. A natural indoor insect control product. It is not registered for the control of turf insects. • Corn gluten meal. Product description. A natural and organic turf herbicide that is derived from plant materials. It acts as a selective and pre-emergent granular herbicide that merely inhibits annual-type weeds before they germinate and sprout from the soil. Corn gluten meal will not control weeds that have already emerged since it does not act like a post-emergent herbicide. Unfortunately, it may increase the growth of established weeds since it also contains 10 per cent nitrogen by weight, and is a source of fertilizer nitrogen. Therefore, it may not be considered as a more effective alternative to turf herbicides that contain 2,4-D. • Diatomaceous earth. Product description. A natural insecticide that is derived from minerals called silicone dioxide. This fine powder will control crawling insects by acting as a desiccating dust and scarifier. It is not registered for the control of turf insects. • Ferric phosphate. Product description. A natural pest control bait product which is derived from minerals that are found in the soil. It is used for the control of slugs and snails, and hence, is classified as a molluscicide. It is not registered for the control of turf pests. • Fungicidal sulphur. Product description. This ecological fungicide, also known as microscopic sulphur or wettable sulphur or bio-sulphur, is converted, or synthesized, from minerals that are composed of sulphur in order to become water-soluble. It is used for the control of diseases in horticultural crops, and it is the only fungicide that can be used for the organic farming of apples. However, it is not registered for the control of turf diseases. • Herbicidal soap. Product description. An ecological and synthetic herbicide containing fatty acids that are not derived from any natural materials. According to some people, the fatty acids are naturally-occurring. Nonetheless, it is acceptable to the environmental movement as a so-called low-risk green alternative to conventional herbicides like 2,4-D. Herbicidal soap acts as a non-selective and post-emergent herbicide by causing plants to dehydrate or dry out. It will destroy desirable turf as well as weeds. Thus, it may not be considered as a more effective alternative to turf herbicides that contain 2,4-D. • Horticultural oil. Product description. An ecological and synthetic insecticide that is not derived from any natural materials. It is also known under the name dormant oil. It is composed of highly-refined emulsifiable mineral oil. Nonetheless, it is acceptable to the environmental movement as a so-called low-risk substitute to conventional insecticides. Horticultural oil is used on ornamental plants and horticultural crops for the control of small soft-bodied insects, such as aphids, mites, psylla, and scale. It is not registered for the control of turf insects. • Insecticidal soap. Product description. An ecological and synthetic insecticide that is not derived from any natural materials, since it contains manufactured salts of fatty acids. Nonetheless, it is acceptable to the environmental movement as a so-called low-risk substitute to conventional insecticides. Insecticidal soap is used to control small soft-bodied insects, such as aphids and mites, in horticultural crops and ornamental plants. It is also registered for the control of turf insects such as ants, chinch bugs, and earwigs. It is a weak insecticide that may need to be applied every seven to 14 days until control is achieved. Consequently, it may not be considered as a more effective alternative to conventional insecticides. • Nematodes. Product description. Nematode products are classified as a bio-pesticide or biological or natural since they contain living organisms. They are not registered as pest control products. Nematodes are microscopic roundworms, or tiny worm-like parasites. Each product affects only one specific white grub species, and no other types of insects. Nematode products must be applied preventively, and control results are severely delayed, and will vary depending upon the prevailing environmental conditions. Therefore, nematodes are not a more effective alternative to conventional insecticides. Moreover, the shelf life of nematodes is limited, and they must be stored in a refrigerator at plus 5 degrees C. • Sclerotinia minor. Product description. This product is classified as a bio-pesticide or biological or natural granular herbicide that contains a living and naturally-occurring plant pathogen. It acts as a very selective and post-emergent herbicide that merely suppresses dandelions by infecting and destroying the leaf tissues above ground. Other broad-leaved weeds may be controlled. Its efficacy is dependent upon environmental conditions. Dandelion re-growth will occur later in the season. Thus, Sclerotinia minor may not be considered as a more effective alternative to conventional turf herbicides such as 2,4-D. Under frozen storage conditions of minus 16 degrees C, the shelf life of Sclerotinia minor is no longer than nine months from the date of manufacture. When refrigerated at plus 4 degrees C, the shelf life is no longer than seven months from the date of manufacture. When stored in a cool place, with temperatures up to plus 20 degrees C, the shelf life is no longer than three months from the date of manufacture. What are the differences in products between the various groups that use them? In practice, not much. In many cases, the same active ingredients of pest control products are used in agriculture, extermination, forestry, golf, and professional lawn care. Here is a statement from the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA): "Pesticides registered in Canada, for agricultural, forestry, structural and lawn and garden uses must all meet the same health and safety standards." Are green alternatives safer than conventional pest control products? Not really. The following is a brief description of potential safety problems and levels of toxicity associated with various products. All information was obtained from product labels and material safety data sheets. • Acetic acid. Product safety and toxicity. So-called lower-risk green alternative to conventional turf herbicides. Skin irritant. Corrosive to the eyes. Product acute oral toxicity (LD50) 3310 mg/kg (rat). During application, wear gloves, long-sleeved shirt, pants, safety goggles or face shield, socks and shoes. Therefore, this product may be deemed as a dubious lower-risk green alternative to conventional turf herbicides that contain 2,4-D. (See the later segment on 2,4-D.) • Bacillus thuringiensis. Product safety and toxicity. May cause sensitization to the skin and eyes. No information available regarding LD50. Consequently, this product may be deemed as a dubious lower-risk green alternative to conventional insecticides. Not registered for the control of turf insects. • Boric acid. Product safety and toxicity. Hazardous as a skin and eye irritant. Prolonged or repeated skin contact may cause dermatitis. Product acute oral toxicity (LD50) 2660 mg/kg (rat). Not registered for the control of turf insects. • Corn gluten meal. Product safety and toxicity. So-called lower-risk green alternative to conventional turf herbicides. May cause sensitization to the skin and eyes. Apparent universal scientific oversight regarding the reporting of LD50. Thus, this product may be deemed as a dubious lower-risk green alternative to conventional turf herbicides that contain 2,4-D. (See the later segment on 2,4-D.) • Deltamethrin (DeltaGard). Product safety and toxicity. Conventional turf insecticide. Severe eye and skin irritant. Potential skin sensitizer. Contact with product may result in transient tingling and reddening of the skin. Harmful if inhaled. Product acute oral toxicity (LD50) greater than 15,000 mg/kg (rat). May be deemed lower-risk when compared to many so-called green alternatives. • Diatomaceous earth. Product safety and toxicity. Hazardous in case of inhalation as a lung irritant. Slightly hazardous as an irritant in case of skin contact, eye contact, and ingestion. No information available regarding LD50. Not registered for the control of turf insects. • Ferric phosphate. Product safety and toxicity. Causes moderate eye irritation. May cause slight gastro-intestinal irritation. May be hazardous to some people since it contains wheat as an allergen. Product acute oral toxicity (LD50) greater than 5000 mg/kg. Not registered for the control of turf pests. • Herbicidal soap. Product safety and toxicity. So-called lower-risk green alternative to conventional turf herbicides. May cause eye and skin irritation. May be mildly sensitizing. Product acute oral toxicity (LD50) greater than 5000 mg/kg. Hence, this product may be deemed as a dubious lower-risk green alternative to conventional turf herbicides that contain 2,4-D. (See the later segment on 2,4-D.) • Horticultural oil. Product safety and toxicity. Can cause mild skin irritation or dermatitis after prolonged contact. Product acute oral toxicity (LD50) 5000 mg/kg. Not registered for the control of turf insects. • Imidacloprid (Merit). Product safety and toxicity. Conventional turf insecticide. Harmful if swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through skin. Causes eye irritation. Acute oral toxicity (LD50) 2591 to 4820 mg/kg (rat), depending on formulation. During application, wear chemical-resistant gloves, long pants, and long-sleeved shirt. May be deemed lower-risk when compared to many so-called green alternatives. • Insecticidal soap. Product safety and toxicity. So-called lower-risk green alternative to conventional turf insecticides. An eye and skin irritant. Potential skin sensitizer. Product acute oral toxicity (LD50) greater than 5000 mg/kg (rat). Hence, this product may be deemed as a dubious lower-risk green alternative to conventional insecticides. (See the segments on deltamethrin and imidacloprid.) • Microscopic sulphur. Product safety and toxicity. Harmful if swallowed, inhaled, or absorbed through skin. During application, wear goggles or a face shield, chemical resistant gloves, a hat, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and rubber boots. Re-entry period of 24 hours after application. Product acute oral toxicity (LD50) 5000 mg/kg (rat). Not registered for the control of turf diseases. • Nematodes. Product safety and toxicity. So-called lower-risk green alternative to conventional turf insecticides. May cause mechanical irritation of skin and eyes after prolonged or repeated contact. Prolonged inhalation may lead to respiratory tract irritation, and may provoke asthmatic response in persons with asthma who are sensitive to airway irritants. No information available regarding LD50. Consequently, this product may be deemed as a dubious lower-risk green alternative to conventional turf insecticides such as imidacloprid. • Sclerotinia minor. Product safety and toxicity. So-called lower-risk green alternative to conventional turf herbicides. May cause sensitization. Contact must be avoided with skin, eyes or clothing. Breathing dust must also be avoided. During application, wear dust/mist filtering respirator, waterproof gloves, long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes and socks. No information available regarding LD50. Therefore, this product may be deemed as a dubious lower-risk green alternative to conventional turf herbicides that contain 2,4-D. (See the next segment on 2,4-D.) • 2,4-D. Product safety and toxicity. Conventional turf herbicide. Three-way herbicide products like Killex contains 2,4-D. May cause severe irritation to the eyes. During application, wear chemical-resistant gloves, long pants, long-sleeved shirt, sock and shoes. Re-entry period when the spray has thoroughly dried. Product acute oral toxicity (LD50) greater than 5000 mg/kg (rat). May be deemed lower-risk when compared to many so-called green alternatives. Measuring the level of toxicity The level of toxicity of pest control products is measured by LD50 (lethal dose 50). This value represents the dose that is fatal for 50 per cent of an experimental group of laboratory animals, in most cases rats. The lower the LD50 value, the more toxic the product. What are the industry leaders doing to fight the Ontario prohibition? It is extremely unfortunate that Landscape Ontario has appeared indecisive regarding the Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Act. Its public statements have been highly ambivalent and contradictory. Here is an official statement released on April 22, 2008, by Gavin Dawson, chairman of the Lawncare Commodity Group of Landscape Ontario: "The professional lawncare (sic) industry in Ontario actively supports the concept of a strong, province-wide pesticide law, to replace a patchwork of contradictory municipal bylaws," said Gavin Dawson, chair of the Landscape Ontario, Lawncare Commodity Group. "While we recognize there is more work to be done on the details of this initiative, the McGuinty government has delivered on its promise with a Bill that ensures consistent standards everywhere, which apply equally to professionals servicing our green infrastructure and the do-it-yourself market." For the complete media release, go to: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/April2008/22/c7982.html Landscape Ontario also appears among a list of supporters from the environmental movement in a document released by the Ministry of the Environment of the Government of Ontario. Go to http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/en/news/2008/042201mb3.php By Nov. 19, 2008, Landscape Ontario issued a different kind of statement regarding the prohibition: "Urgent Call to Action. The draft regulations under the Cosmetic Pesticides Prohibition Act, 2008, released by the government on November 7th are completely unsatisfactory to Landscape Ontario and the professional lawncare (sic) industry." In January 2009, Landscape Ontario finally took a position against the Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Act. Some people have commented that this trade association's lack of decisiveness regarding the prohibition disqualifies it as a credible defender of the professional lawn care industry. This is a familiar situation. In the 1990s, when the professional lawn care industry in Quebec began challenging the prohibition initiated by the Town of Hudson, it was recognized that this could only be successfully accomplished by breaking away from the parent association named Québec Vert, the equivalent of Landscape Ontario. Early on, Québec Vert actually tried to seize the financial assets (which was called the war chest) that were being accumulated for the challenge. Who then will fight to protect the industry from the Ontario prohibition? The Professional Lawn Care Association (PLCAO), in conjunction with its membership, and other concerned parties, has been very decisive regarding the Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Act. It has recently launched a legal action. This legal challenge will be expensive. Fifty to $100,000 will likely be the price tag for a lawsuit that challenges the Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Act. In comparison, when the industry challenged the Town of Hudson, the path to The Supreme Court of Canada ultimately cost $125,000. People seem to forget that when you lose a challenge, you must pay the opposition's legal bills as well as your own. The Professional Lawn Care Association of Ontario has correctly recognized that this is our last chance to prevent the prohibition, and save the industry and our future. It needs our financial support! We must defend the industry, whatever the cost may be! Please contact and give support to the PLCAO at 519-836-4906 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it What about the failure of litigation against the Toronto prohibition? Haven't there been other legal challenges to prohibitions in Ontario? Yes. In 2003, the chemical manufacturing industry, represented by CropLife Canada, challenged in court whether the City of Toronto had the authority under the new Municipal Act of 2001 to prohibit the use of pest control products. Toronto used the pretext that this act "will promote the health of the inhabitants of the City of Toronto." For some reason, CropLife Canada never challenged the bylaw for the sake of the Professional Lawn Care Industry, but rather on the basis that the Toronto prohibition "sets a troubling precedent for Canadian farmers, (despite the fact that) there may not be a lot of farms in the City of Toronto." In 2004, the Court of Appeal for Ontario concluded that the City of Toronto did have the authority to pass its bylaw. In 2005, The Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the case with costs. Henceforth, the floodgates were opened for radical and prejudicial bylaws across Ontario. Here's a twist of fate that further led to the failure of the challenge. CropLife Canada was doomed even before it presented its case to The Supreme Court of Canada. One of the judges was Michel Bastarache. He was one of the judges who also ruled against the professional lawn care industry in the Hudson affair in 2001. CropLife Canada was dead in the water with this guy.
ALL the talk right now within the turfgrass industry, it seems, is based on the subject of pesticides or, more precisely, how turfgrass plots can continue to be maintained without the use of these products.
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