Terence Corcoran May 31, 2011 – 10:16 PM ET
So now the old “yellow flower” is a thing of horticultural attraction. This glorious news hit the front page of the National Post Monday in a report that portrayed the weedy dandelion as a reborn object of beauty and affection. No longer on the kill list, dandelions are flourishing across Canada, spreading across fields and lawns, golf courses and public parkland.
Unfortunately, the yellow dandelion flower has a half-life of about nine hours, after which it starts cranking out fluffy white seed carriers that scatter billions of future dandelions all over the urban nation, covering street meridians and every nook and cranny of every public and private space.
We are now doomed, as a country, to decades of exponential weed growth. We might as well make it the national flower now and get it over with.And, oh how the green activists and environmental alliances must have loved that story. What an achievement, a great science con job, a brilliant bait-and-switch policy scam, and a model for future activism. It’s a con job the National Post story, brightly illustrated and with an upbeat headline (Dandelions finally get their day in the sun), failed to mention.
That dandelions are now spreading like weeds across Canada has its origins in a phony cancer scare. That it was (and is) a phony scare was confirmed again just last week when Ottawa, the Quebec government and Dow AgroSciences settled a lawsuit under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Dow AgroSciences had sued over Quebec government claims the pesticide 2,4-D, the key dandelion exterminator, was a health risk.
The settlement agreement, a victory for the company, includes a statement from the government of Quebec saying the pesticide 2,4-D does “not pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment” when used according to instructions. It is too late, however, to undo the damage at the municipal level.
Governments have long known that 2,4-D is safe, but they eventually caved in to activists, who for much of the last decade continued to portray the pesticide as a dangerous threat despite lack of any evidence. Since the health scare had no scientific base, activists turned the pesticide battle into a war on cosmetic pesticides as a “precautionary” move.
What is cosmetic pesticide use? In Ontario, it was defined as “non-essential” use, and non-essential turned out to be the individual homeowner’s view of what was esthetic. If you like weed-free lawns and parks, your tastes were deemed “non-essential.” At that point, the phony war on an alleged health and environmental risk was converted into a war on the esthetic standards of Canadians.