The Problem With the Anti-Pesticide Movement
Monday's editorial comment:
Rob Breakenridge | Calgary
It's not really asking too much, I don't think, that if a product is going to be banned, that the danger of that product be established.
Controversial pesticide 2, 4-D has been the subject of bans in other parts of the country, and there are those here in Calgary who for years have been pushing city council to ban the pesticide.
There are those on council who support a ban, and the issue is likely to surface again.
Proponents of a ban speak ominously about chemicals and invoke the precautionary principle, but never seem to offer any hard science to justify a ban on 2, 4-D.
Late last week the scientific emptiness of the anti-pesticide position was exposed in the settlement of a NAFTA trade dispute involving Quebec and the US-based maker of 2, 4-D.
Quebec banned the product, claiming, in part, that it was a carcinogen.
But now in this settlement, Quebec acknowledges that the pesticide does not pose a siginificant risk to human health or the environment. Yet, strangely, the ban remains.
Quebec is at least acknowledging what the science has found.
in 2008, a sweeping review of 2,4-D by Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency confirmed exactly what Quebec has now admitted.
Moreover, that conclusion was backed up by an independent science advisory panel comprised of government and university expert in toxicology, epidemiology and biology.
We also know that adjusted for age, cancer rates have remained stable over the past three decades – they have not been going up as pesticide opponents like to claim.
Other studies have shown no increase in the incidence of cancer in populations that have been subjected to pesticides.
If we're going to continue to debate whether to ban pesticides, let's try and include more science and less fearmongering.