(Beyond Pesticides, September 27, 2012) Manitoba will likely join the majority of Canada’s provinces in banning cosmetic pesticides next year, according to Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh. The minister made his announcement on Monday after a coalition of health and environment groups, Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba, delivered a letter with over 1,000 signatories that calls on the government to ban the sale and use of cosmetic pesticides.
The public has until October 1 to submit their comments on the ban to the Manitoba government. The province is providing guidance to the public through a paper entitled Play it Safe, which outlines the background on the proposed ban, explores restriction options, and raises awareness about pesticide use on lawns. The paper makes note of the importance of using a precautionary approach to the sale and use of lawn care pesticides, acknowledging the potential harm these chemicals can cause to the environment and human health, especially those at increased risk, such as pregnant women and children.
Research by the Ontario College of Family Physicians has identified scores of studies showing that human health is at risk from pesticide use. Other recent scientific evidence shows aquatic ecosystems are especially endangered. Minister Mackintosh said a May 2012 Ontario compilation of more than 140 medical studies links pesticides to several health risks, especially for children and pregnant women. The review links pesticides to autism, asthma and lung disease for fetuses exposed in utero. The Canadian Cancer Society has also warned pesticide exposure may increase the risk of certain cancers.
“There are studies looking at the health and environmental impacts of cosmetic pesticide use, and the science appears to indicate that there is a risk,” Minister Mackintosh said. “We also know that most Canadians do have different precautions across the country in place and … the obvious question is shouldn’t Manitoba children have the same benefits that most other Canadian children do enjoy?”
Environmental groups and public health organizations, including the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), and The David Suzuki Foundation are all pushing the Manitoba government for a full ban on the sale and use of these toxic chemicals for lawn care.
The minister also noted that lawn care businesses have fared well in other Canadian jurisdictions where cosmetic pesticide bans are in place. During the past decade, over 150 municipalities and several other Canadian provinces, including Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, have banned the use of “cosmetic” lawn care pesticides because of health and environmental concerns. The bans have had the support of the Canadian medical community, including the Canadian Cancer Society and the Ontario College of Family Physicians.
Across the U.S., many communities, school districts, and state policies are now following a systems approach that is designed to put a series of preventive steps in place that will solve pest (weed and insect) problems. This approach is based on three basic concepts: (i) natural, organic product where use is governed by soil testing, (ii) an understanding that the soil biomass plays a critical role in soil fertility and turf grass health, and (iii) specific and sound cultural practices. Communities that have recently taken steps to ban or limit pesticide use include the states of Connecticut and New York, Ohio’s Cuyahoga County, Cape Cod, over 30 communities in New Jersey, and Chicago’s City Parks.
For more information, see Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba. The coalition also has a petition that individuals may sign on to here. The Manitoba government is taking comments and feedback on the proposal until Oct 1, 2012. Comments can be submitted here.
Beautiful landscapes do not require toxic pesticides. Beyond Pesticides’ Lawns and Landscapes webpage provides information on pesticide hazards and information on organic management strategies. The site also provides an online training, Organic Land Care Basic Training for Municipal Officials and Transitioning Landscapers, to assist in going pesticide-free. With the training, landscapers can learn the practical steps to transitioning to a natural program. Or, you can order Pesticide Free Zone yard signs to display to your neighbors. For assistance in proposing a policy to your city council (or its equivalent), contact Beyond Pesticides at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.