WINNIPEG — I have heard several media reports on pesticides over the past week in which activist groups and the NDP government use language and terms that are both misleading and inaccurate.
They continue to deceive the public with stories that twist scientific studies.
They quote studies linking pesticides to cancer and therefore believe all pesticides are responsible for causing cancer and killing our children.
To quote the Health Canada website on the use of 2,4-D on lawns when children, pets, or pregnant women are present: “Health Canada found that 2,4-D does not increase the risk of cancer and can be used safely by homeowners, provided label directions are followed.”
When the NDP government talks about a weed-control ban, this is what it means:
• Remove the most commonly used broadleaf weed control products such as WeedEx or Par III that have been used for more than 40 years. The NDP says there is a list of alternative products; the fact is, there is only one, Fiesta. It is many times more expensive, requires the same safety precautions and is not registered to control many noxious weeds such as Canada thistle. There will be no products available to control thistle and many other provincially identified noxious weeds; the activists will tell you otherwise.
• Remove Round-up, the most commonly used product for controlling grass and weeds. The activists and NDP tell us it’s unsafe to use it on weeds on driveways and sidewalks, but Manitoba Agriculture allows it to be sprayed on cereal crops just weeks before harvest to help ripen the crop. How can it be safe on our food and not under our shoes?
• Remove the most commonly used insect-control products used to control chinch bugs, ants and sod webworm. No effective alternatives are available. The activists and NDP will tell you otherwise.
All these products are registered for use by Health Canada and have been used and tested for decades. In fact, 2,4-D was recently re-evaluated by both Health Canada and the EPA and determined to be safe when used as intended.
The World Health Organization ranks holding a cellphone to your head as more hazardous than using this weed control. I tend to believe the expertise of Health Canada and science over small activist groups.
Almost 15,000 postcards from Manitobans opposed to a ban were delivered to Greg Selinger’s government about this time last spring. He has not responded to industry requests to be involved in shaping policy, nor to the 15,000 citizens opposed to a ban.
Many people use the services of professional lawn-care companies to proudly maintain their property. Seniors, the disabled and others on a fixed income will not be able to afford to use the so-called organic alternative available after an unnecessary ban.
The lawn-care industry is highly regulated. Applicators are well-trained and must have pesticide applicators’ licences. Companies require insurance and IPM accreditation and licensing. Additionally, they are required to post signage immediately after any treatment, identifying date and time of the treatment as well as the product used.
The lawn-care industry provides service to about half of all the houses in Winnipeg each summer in a safe, effective and affordable way. Incredibly, the ban will only affect licensed companies initially.
Untrained homeowners will still be able to purchase and use off-the-shelf products for some time, and because the province doesn’t control federally approved products moving across the border there, will be a steady stream coming up from weekend trips to Grand Forks, N.D.
If health is really the issue, why haven’t they banned smoking yet? There are many products used on a daily basis such as gasoline, bleach and cleaning products, as well as chlorine in pools and hot tubs that may be a health risk but provide benefits when used properly.
Lawn-care products are no different.
» Ken Wiebe has been the owner of Eco Green Ltd., one of Winnipeg’s largest lawn-care companies, for the past 30 years. This article also appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press. Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh is expected to table the Environment Amendment Act (Reducing Pesticide Exposure) today.