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Most Manitobans support banning garden, lawn pesticides: poll

A new poll says 71 per cent of Manitobans support a law that would phase out the use and sale of lawn and garden pesticides across the province.

The poll, released today, says rural, urban, and suburban residents agree at 86 per cent, 72 per cent, and 68 per cent respectively that cosmetic pesticides should be barred from use and sale.

The poll was released by the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and Manitoba’s Green Action Centre. It was conducted by Oraclepoll Research. It involved a telephone survey of 498 Manitoba residents. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 per cent 19 out of 20 times.

"It's clear Manitobans want and deserve the same protection from these unnecessary toxins as the millions of Canadians across Canada where provincial bans are already in place," said Farrah Khan, spokeswoman for the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. "Strong provincial legislation will take these poisons off store shelves and protect our most vulnerable population -- our kids -- from getting sick."

Lawn and garden pesticides are already banned in six provinces from Ontario to Newfoundland. Some research has shown links between pesticide exposure and childhood cancer, birth defects, neurological problems and respiratory illness.

The Selinger government has been looking at similar legislation for this province.

Conservation and Waterstewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh has said Manitoba could see a ban on cosmetic pesticides this year.

Such a ban, to be phased in, would see chemicals such as WeedEx and Roundup outlawed in the province.

He said what form the restrictions take -- he’s stressed the province is only focused on lawn-care products, not agricultural -- is currently being studied by his staff.

Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister has said that if such a ban is imposed, playing fields will become contaminated with dandelions and kids won’t get exercise. That means community clubs will be forced to rip up those fields and install costly artificial turf.

The new poll also found 77 per cent of Manitobans see pesticides as a threat to the environment, including wildlife, air quality, and lakes; and that 71 per cent see lawn pesticides as a health threat to pets.

"It's no secret lawn pesticides are polluting our ecosystems," Josh Brandon, communications coordinator at the Green Action Centre said. "We hope the government will take action now to protect our lakes -- while we still can."

Local lawn-care companies have said a cosmetic-pesticide ban is little more than politics and that the chemicals they use are approved by Health Canada.

Organic pesticides are already widely available — some stores have already voluntarily taken toxic chemicals off their shelves — but critics argue they tend to cost more and are not as effective.

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