“We also believe, frankly, that there’s an economic argument to be made here, that going pesticide-free could increase golf club revenues and profit, leading to some economic stimulation and some job growth. Would today’s health-conscious golfer be willing to pay just a little more to play on a safer, more environmentally friendly surface? We think the answer is yes.
Finally-I will wrap up, Mr. Chair; I’m mindful of the time-we urge you to remove the bill’s exemption for the so-called “other prescribed uses.” This catch-all clause would, we fear, allow pesticide applications for any and every use. Certainly it could be used to justify cosmetic spraying, which would clearly undermine the bill’s whole intention. If the issue here is ensuring that pesticides can be used for emergencies, for health and safety issues or for prevention of illness, surely that’s already covered under the quite reasonable health and safety exemption. As a doctor’s organization, we can see no possible justification for an exemption that’s as broad and as vague as the so-called “other prescribed uses.” If allowed to stand, it could undermine everything the legislation hopes to achieve.
In sum, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment is very supportive of the proposed ban. We only ask that you drop the clause referring to municipal powers, and that you remove the exemption for golf courses and the so-called “other prescribed uses.”
Mr. Chair, I’m happy to answer any questions.
The Chair (Mr. Shafiq Qaadri): Thank you, Mr. Forman. About a minute per side, beginning with Mr. Tabuns.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: Could you speak directly to the whole question of health impacts on golf grounds managers?
Mr. Gideon Forman: Sure. There’s been a fair bit of research done in this area. One of the studies that I’m looking at, from the Ontario College of Family Physicians’ Pesticide Literature Review-they did what’s called a cohort study. They looked at 680 deceased male members of what they call the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. They compared them to cancer mortality in the general US male population and they found that on a whole range of cancers, this cohort of golf superintendents had higher mortality from cancers. I’m talking about lung cancer, brain cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and prostate cancer. So there is a fair bit of evidence that these people who spend a lot of their time around pesticides are at increased risk for mortality from cancer.
Mr. Peter Tabuns: Thank you.
The Chair (Mr. Shafiq Qaadri): To the government side.
Mr. Kevin Daniel Flynn: Thank you for the presentation. Could you comment on your knowledge of the experience of other jurisdictions that have implemented pesticide bans?
Mr. Gideon Forman: Sure. The best example, as you know, is the province of Quebec. What we saw in Quebec, based on Statistics Canada, was a dramatic drop in pesticide use following their province-wide ban on these products. They had about a 50% drop in household pesticide use, according to Statistics Canada. So they’re very effective in doing what they’re trying to do, which is reduce the non-essential use of pesticides.
The Chair (Mr. Shafiq Qaadri): To the PC side.
Ms. Laurie Scott: I just wondered if you could say, in a word or two, what is the active ingredient that you say is linking the workers on the golf course to an increased risk of cancer?
Mr. Gideon Forman: There’s a whole range of active ingredients, and different golf courses use different products. We’re concerned with a whole range of products.
Ms. Laurie Scott: We have Health Canada, which you haven’t mentioned, and they do all the approvals.
Mr. Gideon Forman: They do registrations, yes.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Yes. So does Health Canada have no credibility in these studies?
Mr. Gideon Forman: Sure, they have credibility.
Ms. Laurie Scott: So you don’t believe what they’re saying? Because they’re saying that they have tested the most susceptible portions of the population, and they find no harm or linkages with these ingredients.
Mr. Gideon Forman: With all due respect, that’s not quite what they say. They say, first of all, that all pesticides come with risks, and they do. There’s a whole range of pesticides that they’ve looked at, and some are more harmful than others. But to say that there’s no harm from them I don’t think is quite accurate.
Ms. Laurie Scott: Well, I can use quotes that they say when their use is prescribed-they measure on the amount that is used, but it’s used as directed on the labels, which are, again, all approved by Health Canada. I’m trying to get the science behind all of this so that we have accurate information, and Health Canada is the regulatory body in that manner.
Mr. Gideon Forman: Sure. There’s a huge amount of science. A lot of the science that they use is animal science. What the doctors and nurses in the cancer Society tend to look at is human science; in other words, epidemiological studies. For example, the Canadian Pediatric Society two years ago published a paper on 2,4-D-this is doctors now-and doctors said: “2,4-D can be persuasively linked to cancers, neurological impairment and reproductive problems.” So if you look at what doctors are saying-
The Chair (Mr. Shafiq Qaadri): I’m going to have to intervene there, Mr. Forman. Despite this being, of course, an ultimately important point, I would, as I say, encourage you to communicate the materials in question and answer later, perhaps through the committee or even directly. So thank you for your presentation on behalf of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.”