Manitoba Moves to Ban Non-Organic Pesticides on Lawns — Is Farm Land Next?

photo courtesy of wine intro.com

In a move that’s sure to make manufacturers of organic pesticides very happy, the Manitoba government has announced its plan to introduce legislation that will ban the use of non-organic pesticides for lawns and common areas of the province. Citing health concerns for pets and children, the government plans to begin to ban the sale and use of so-called synthetic pesticides in late 2014.

The Winnipeg-based press conference regarding the proposed ban was held on a Friday before the Canada Day long weekend. Those of us in the media world know that that’s a great way to bury controversial news; if you missed it, now you know why. Still, the proposed ban deserves close inspection by not just homeowners but perhaps more-so by farmers.

The act is not yet drawn up, and there are still many questions regarding enforcement and details of the ban, but Manitoba is just one jurisdiction on an ever-growing list that is banning so-called “cosmetic” pesticide use. Here are my two issues with this: one, Manitoba’s solution to any problems seems to be to simply ban it. I won’t go so far as to call it a nanny state but my nickname for my home province is Banitoba. Would education of safe use and alternatives, signage of recently treated areas and stricter guidelines for use in public areas be just as effective, cheaper to roll out and more in line with science? Yes. Well then… And, two, if we’re going to ban products on private land, how long before this reaches to all land,  including farm land? And, three (I’m apparently bad with math), if you’re going to ban some products, why not all? Bio-pesticides are still pesticides — table salt is rather benign or “low-risk” as they want to call it, but in enough quantities very bad for us, soil and weeds. Bio-pesticides are the same. Looks to me like certain companies are going to benefit handsomely from Manitoba’s hand-holding.

Some would call this the “thin edge of the wedge.” After all, if synthetic pesticides are deemed unsafe for public spaces and private lawns, how are they safe for golf courses (not covered under this ban) and, eventually, farm land? In fact, a recent CBC article on the Manitoba ban alludes to “officials” (who aren’t named) pushing the ban further: “Officials said efforts will continue to reduce pesticide exposure in the province, and will include stricter management of how weeds are killed on agricultural lands, a consumer awareness program and consultations with schools and child-care centres to reduce indoor exposure to pesticides.

Is this the first step to outlawing conventional agriculture? That may sound rather dramatic, but I’m not trying to be. But when statements like this are made about such an integral part of agriculture production, you’ve got to wonder.

Read the Manitoba government’s recent statement (emphasis added) here.

 

Lyndsey Smith

Lyndsey Smith is a field editor for RealAgriculture. A self-proclaimed agnerd, Lyndsey is passionate about all things farming but is especially thrilled by agronomy and livestock production.

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9 Comments

Terri

I tried to post this on my FB page; it won’t post. Thought I’d let you know in case the link wasn’t “linked” properly. I’d love to help, but that’s the extent of my computer knowledge…

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McCumsey

Considering the stories I hear from “farmers” who tell me “all the men died of cancer” in their area when discussing pesticides I would think that you would have some kind of awareness about the health issues associated with these poisons. I get kind of disgusted with the comparison with table salt as this does happen to be a requirement for human health and “anything” can be bad for you even WATER if you consume too much of it. Pesticides are poison and are NOT required by the body at all…scientists and physicians have done numerous studies worldwide to support this. Vinegar works pretty well for killing weeds for example but I don’t have to worry if anyone gets it on their skin! The tobacco industry fought tooth and nail about how their product was safe. Only industry and those associated with it economically support this without considering why all this is going on. I haven’t found anything yet that industry or those who support to tell me that this is a better way for anyone.

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charlene

Actually, some of the most scary warnings in the pesticide industry come on the horticultural vinegar package. Remember it’s an acid and can be quite potent when not diluted, including causing blindness. But we use vinegar, it’s “safe”, thinks the consumer. Oven cleaner is actually more toxic than most of the chemicals in retail storage, but we don’t have to lock it up. Just because something sounds scary doesn’t mean it is and just because we use something every day doesn’t mean it’s safe.

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Lyndsey Smith

I’m all for personal protection — pesticides are meant to be handled and applied to minimize contact because, yes, they are chemicals. It’s why I am all for better education, signage and judicious use of chemicals, but a ban? Not necessary.

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Amanda

Accidents happen all the time, if these products are not as readily available, less accidents will happen. People are lazy and do not choose something new if the old is still available. The fact is that these chemicals are unnecessary and do not increase our quality of life. The fear-mongering from the industry puts us who are just fighting for our health to shame, there has not, nor will ever be a ban on chemicals used for conventional farming. Our agricultural system is broken and we should be using more traditional methods to deter pests and weeds.

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McCumsey

Do you think we should bring back PCB’s and Agent Orange? Agent Orange was approved by Health Canada and used for 30 years. Studies indicate that many of these pesticides are killing bees (which we are dependent on) and that very small amounts of other pesticides cause serious illness. Many of these pesticides have NOT been properly tested before being released for sale. The industry has lied repeatedly about these products and caught by the courts…Monsanto Lab’s for one charged on 20 felony counts (and found guilty)….pesticide use has increased dramatically although these companies say the products they develop are designed to reduce use. Some of these chemicals ARE already banned in other nations for very good reasons. The skin being the largest organ in the body can absorb this faster through the head than if you ingested it (BC Agriculture Web site). We get this in our food, water and air. Weed resistance is growing rapidly and soil degradation is another issue. Yes education is what we need. Maybe not from those who are subsidized for selling us poison that care only about filling their pockets.

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McCumsey

Also, most of those who are pushing for this want to protect our children from cancer and other health issues. I am not afraid of a dandelion killing my children. I am afraid of the apathy and greed that feeds into the pockets of the industry that has done so much to damage our planet and is responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths (Vietnam only one). These companies sue farmers.

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Charlene

I have said before, farmers must get a license and training to purchase pesticides, why shouldn’t home owners too? It would be money in the governments pocket. Like the boat licensing, hold it at Canadian Tire and Home Depot stores. People write a test and get a license. They show the license when they buy the chemicals. No license, no chemical. People receive education. Government receives money. Seems like a win-win to me. No need to ban at all.

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