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NDP introducing pesticide ban legislation tomorrow

Water droplets accumulate on a dandelion.


Water droplets accumulate on a dandelion.

Long-promised legislation to phase out the sale and use of synthetic pesticides on lawns in Manitoba will be introduced Tuesday.

Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh is scheduled to introduce the Environment Amendment Act (Reducing Pesticide Exposure) bill before Question Period begins in the afternoon. The bill has been on the government’s agenda for several years.

The province has said it plans to institute the ban in time for the 2015 lawn-care season.

A herbicide is a weed killer. A pesticide is a more general term encompassing herbicides, insecticides and fungicides.

The province has also cited studies that have shown "associations" between pesticide use and adverse health effects for bringing in the ban. Homeowners would also be granted a one-year grace period after the law is in place before facing any penalties.

Critics of the ban, including lawn-care companies, say there is no concrete proof their products— approved by Health Canada — are a risk to health.

The also say more friendly bio-pesticide lawn-care alternatives on the market are more expensive and less effective at controlling weeds.

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I trust my comment of yesterday would be posted, as I am retired federal middle-level public servant familiar with the pesticide approval process as well as with the adverse effect of pesticides, especially on the health of young children. The credibility of the critics is weak as they happen to be, for the most part, self-interested parties--i.e. distributors of pesticides, so the article should have mentioned this.

Who are the critics of the ban? In addition to those who are grossly misinformed, they usually are individuals or businesses with a financial interest in the continuation of pesticide use for cosmetic purposes. As to Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency--I am retired federal public servant familiar with the pesticide evaluation process--this agency has no labs of its own and fully depends on the self-serving data submitted by the chemical industry. By the way, I know on the basis of personal experience that it is possible to maintain lawns in an excellent condition without the use of pesticides. Topdress, overseed and mow high--do not cut the turf to a height of less than 3 inches. Also add Dutch (white) clover seeds. This type of clover pulls nitrogen from the air and makes your lawn look beautiful. My own lawn has not been sprayed in thirty years yet I very seldom experience any dandelions, and if I do they are so tiny that their removal takes a mere second or two. Bear in mind that children and pets are especially vulnerable when exposed to herbicides and insecticides. The herbicide applied on lawns is usually 2,4-D, formerly half of the Agent Orange sprayed in Vietnam. Although somewhat less toxic than its now banned partner--herbicide 2,4,5-T, 2,4-D has resulted in a very substantial number of Vietnamese children born with terrible birth defects. 2,4-D is also known to contaminate drinking water. And it penetrates into neighbours yards against their will.

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