In his recent letter, Larry Maguire, the Progressive Conservative MLA for Arthur-Virden, suggests the Manitoba government is naïve and not motivated by science in its proposed measures to restrict the use of cosmetic pesticides in the province.
Yet, he cites a report by the B.C. legislative assembly as key to his science base.
However, Mr. Maguire is himself naïve in the depth of his knowledge of how the pesticide regulatory system operates in Canada.
Yes, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency operates under the rubric of Health Canada. However, a minimal amount of research would tell him that PMRA carries out no independent research, has limited expertise in environmental health and relies totally on data from the pesticide manufacturers (the registrants).
This data, despite published evidence of fraudulent data being submitted in the U.S. on chlordane and captan, is not made available to independent scientists to assess its reliability because of stated proprietary rights of the companies. This is not the scientific method.
He should also note that unlike the corresponding agencies in Australia, the U.S. and Europe, neither PMRA nor Health Canada have requirements for the reporting of negative impacts of pesticides.
Impacts on non-target species has not been a major concern for PMRA reviews in my experience.
As the director of a horticultural extension service in our province for more than 30 years, there are continued incidences of spray-drift damage to broad-leaved crops, shelter belts, farmsteads, etc. Several of these have been resolved through expensive litigation.
In the city of Brandon, most of the reported incidents of damage to citizen’s gardens has been the result of some commercial “certified” pesticide applicators failure to follow pesticide label directions. A very few cases over 30 years have been caused by consumers.
So much for education!
Dr. Bill Paton
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 16, 2013