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|LORNE HEPWORTH: Setting the record straight Reply to Dr.Ian
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|Author:||JPMTURF [ January 26th, 2010, 8:50 pm ]|
|Post subject:||LORNE HEPWORTH: Setting the record straight Reply to Dr.Ian|
Letter to the Editor:
From: The Western Star
Setting the record straight
The Western Star
Dr. Ian Simpson is right about one thing — the discussion about pesticides should focus on risk versus benefits.
As Canadians, we can rest assured that before any pesticide can be sold in Canada it must undergo a comprehensive scientific review and risk assessment by Health Canada that includes a review of any scientifically credible studies available.
This means that Health Canada cannot cherry-pick from studies to support a preferred outcome.
As for benefits, I hope people will keep in mind that well-maintained public and private spaces make for happier, healthier communities and that pesticides exist to protect those properties from insects, weeds or diseases that may threaten these valuable places.
Canada’s plant science industry is committed to safety, and we demonstrate this continually by investing in research and development to create newer, safer and more environmentally friendly ways to control the pests that harm people, property and crops.
The result is lawn, garden and crop protection products that provide safe and effective tools for protecting homes and landscapes and which help ensure a safe, healthy and abundant supply of affordable foods.
Arbitrary pesticide bans do nothing to protect citizens; they merely create a situation where homeowners and municipalities are unable to use Health Canada-approved products to properly protect their investments in urban landscaping.
Our industry welcomes the opportunity to talk about the benefits our products provide and to answer questions people have.
However, it would be irresponsible of us not to set the record straight when there is misinformation about our products, particularly given the critical role these tools play in contributing to people’s health and well-being by providing an abundant, varied and safe food supply.
Lorne Hepworth, president, CropLife Canada — representing the plant sciences industry
This was Dr. Ian Simpsons Letter the Western Star
LETTERS View comments (10) | View latest comment | Letters RSS Feedhttp://www.thewesternstar.com/index.cfm?sid=320001&sc=154
Last updated at 2:08 AM on 21/01/10
Push for a cosmetic pesticide ban
DR. IAN SIMPSON
The Western Star
Prior to, and during the Christmas season, there were several letters to the St. John’s Telegram about the use of, and place for, pesticides in Newfoundland communities.
There were the expected letters from people opposed to the “cosmetic” use on dandelions, etc., and I should make it plain that I support such a ban. But there was one rather strident letter from a Mr. Barry which seemed to claim he was speaking for Landscape Newfoundland and Labrador.
He said that the statements of the coalition concerning the removal of “cosmetic pesticides” was “junk science” and would have economic consequences for communities that went pesticide free.
He is totally wrong in claiming that the science is “junk.” Science is not simply that one person’s opinion is as good as another’s, i.e. that Mr. Barry’s opinion is as good as the many scientists, from reputable universities and laboratories, who have painstakingly done the epidemiological and environmental studies that have shown beyond question that there are links between pesticide use and human disease.
Science always questions things and repeats studies and this is how true knowledge advances. Repeated studies show the same result.
Certain human illnesses are definitely increased by exposure to pesticides. Here are some examples:
Certain cancers, especially the leukemias and lymphomas are clearly and particularly involved. Other cancers such as breast cancer and brain cancer seem to be increased where the exposure is increased but the correlation is not as strong as for the lymphomas which are seven to eight times more common in those occupations with high exposure to pesticides.
Recent well-designed studies in the U.S. show that the rate of birth defects was directly related to the concentrations of pesticide in the community water source during the first three months of pregnancy. In these studies, the pesticides involved were the same type of herbicide that is used on lawns to control weeds worldwide — in Newfoundland as well as in the corn fields in the U.S.A.
Parkinson’s disease incidence is clearly increased in relationship to the degree of exposure and this is a disease that is becoming more common.
So the debate, or argument, should not be about the science ... these are facts.
The debate should be about the risk versus benefit.
The coalition is not arguing about the place of pesticides in commercial agriculture, clearly there are benefits to their use in commercial agriculture — although there is certainly plenty of room to look at agricultural practice, as organic farmers are doing successfully and reduce pesticide use. The coalition is asking that pesticides be removed, through legislation, from cosmetic use in our communities.
The argument that it is too steep a price for lawn care companies to pay does not stand up to examination.
Since the municipal ban on pesticides in Toronto and Halifax, there has been an increase in the economic sector of landscape, gardening and lawn care companies.
In Halifax, in the five years since their ban, the number of lawn care companies grew from 118 to 180, a 53 per cent increase. Statscan reports that the number of landscaping and lawn care companies has grown each year since the city passed a pesticide ban.
The large retailers are following this shift in Ontario and Quebec. Home Depot claims that some of their locations have increased their organic and eco-chemicals by 29 per cent and reduced the availability and sales of the traditional chemicals.
It is clear to me that public perception about the use of chemical pesticide use for cosmetic purposes is changing. More than 129 Canadian municipalities have enabled bylaws that restrict the use of non-essential chemical pesticides for cosmetic reasons. It seems only reasonable, especially in view of the scientific studies and of the epidemiological data, that we as a society should adopt the precautionary principle, be sensible about our health and enact a provincial ban on non-essential use of these pesticides.
At their recent annual general meeting, Municipalities of Newfoundland and Labrador supported this position on a motion brought by the mayor of Mount Pearl, whose municipality supports this proposed ban.
St. John’s councillor Shelagh O’Leary has written letters supporting such a ban. It is time for other municipalities, especially Corner Brook, to examine this proposal and do likewise.
Mr. Barry please do your research. Look at the science. Look at those municipalities that now realize that there is economic benefit to your business by going “green” and eliminating unnecessary pesticides. Local folks, please pressure your member of Parliament and your city and community councils about this issue. We hope it will be up for debate by government very soon.
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