Daily News Archive
Medical Association Calls for "Weed and Feed" Ban
(Beyond Pesticides, August 20, 2004)
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) adopted a resolution on Monday,
August 16, calling for the ban of combined fertilizer and pesticide
products, so to ensure that each be sold separately to consumers. Products
that combine a fertilizer with pesticides, commonly known as "Weed
and Feed," are convenient to use and are becoming more prevalent.
However, using these products contributes to the unnecessary use of
pesticides with the result that the toxic chemical compounds inherent
in these pesticides can be harmful to human beings, animals, and fish.
The decision was
made after the British
Columbia Medical Association called on CMA to take action on this
issue at their annual meeting in Toronto this week. Dr. Jack Burak,
President of the BC Medical Association, stated, "Many consumers
are unaware of the toxicity of these combined products and tend to spread
them widely over their lawn when they should only be used in concentrated,
problematic areas. For the health of ourselves and our environment,
pesticide use should be a measure of last resort, and should not be
used indiscriminately or even unknowingly."
Many people do not realize how weed and feed products work. Some Canadian
garden supply storeowners refuse to stock them because of this. "It's
a misuse of the chemical, as far as we're concerned," stated Wade
Hartwell, owner and president of Golden Acre Garden Sentres in Calgary.
"(People) put it on the whole lawn when they only have two weeds,"
said Jason Perrin of Greengate Garden Centres, also in Calgary. In addition,
many people apply weed and feed as a preventive measure to keep weeds
from popping up. However, the herbicides in these products are post-emergent,
and will not prevent weeds. Barb Kinnie of the Sierra Club stated, "Most
people think they're using them as a preventive measure, it doesn't
work that way, and it ends up being a problem for the environment, and
people and pets."
Weed and feed products typically contain such hazardous herbicides as
2,4-D or dicamba.
A growing number of scientific studies now link exposure to pesticides
with increased rates of certain cancers, nervous system diseases, learning
disabilities, Parkinson’s disease, and reproductive problems.
Children, especially, are considered a high-risk group due to their
increased exposure to, and sensitivity of, toxic chemicals. Developmental
disabilities such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,
developmental delays, and behavioral disorders are being studied for
links to childhood exposure to environmental chemicals found in pesticides.
Although a few local
programs are in place in Canada with regards to pesticide use, no
federal program has been implemented. The federal government produced
a report four years ago that emphasized a need to change consumers'
attitudes about using pesticides, and recommended increased consumer
education, but to date no action has been taken.
TAKE ACTION: Contact your local policymakers
to call for the ban of "weed and feed" products in your community.
Point to the progressive policies of local Canadian municipalities,
and this recent resolution by the Canadian Medical Association. More
information regarding the toxicity of lawn chemicals and safe, effective
alternatives, along with resources to start organizing in your community,
is available at Beyond Pesticides’ Lawns
and Landscapes program page.