Dennis Prouse – Peter MacLeod – CropLife – Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development Oct 6, 2011

Mrs. Stella Ambler (Mississauga South, CPC)

:

Mr. Chair, my questions are for the witnesses from CropLife.

First of all, could you please outline all of the safety precautions that must be taken before a

pesticide can be used in Canada, both in terms of the health of humans and the pesticide's effects on

the environment?

Mr. Peter MacLeod:

The regulatory process in Canada is very similar to most developed parts of the world, first world

countries. There are in fact probably about 250 to 260 different types of scientific studies that the

government requires to evaluate a product before it is given approval or rejected. From a health

perspective, some of the key areas that are assessed include the risk for cancer and the risk for birth

defects. The risk for any human health problems is looked at in over 85 to 90 different studies. For the

environment, again, it's about 160 studies, looking at everything from any potential impact on water,

soil, or air, including the pesticide itself or any breakdown product, as well as the impact on different

species in the environment, which range from bees to earthworms to ducks. A multitude of species are

looked at to see if there's going to be any impact from an environmental standpoint.

Mrs. Stella Ambler

:

Thank you.

I myself am surprised to hear that there would be 250 studies per product, and I'm on this

committee. So I'm wondering how we can better inform Canadians about the precautions that are

taken before a product hits the market, because I would bet that the average Canadian would not

guess that that kind of study is done before a product is released for sale.

Perhaps you could offer an opinion on how the federal government could better communicate about

pesticide regulations, or maybe that's a question for you, Mr. Prouse.

Mr. Dennis Prouse (Vice-President, Government Affairs, CropLife Canada):

I'd be happy to speak to that. We are encouraging the Pest Management Regulatory Agency to more

publicly talk about the process and defend its science.

Just to give some other context to that, Transport Canada goes out and speaks about how it

regulates boating safety, how it regulates automobile safety, how it regulates air travel safety. In fact,

we saw a very instructive video a while ago from Transport Canada about a family travelling, making

an overseas trip, and about all the work that went on in the background that allowed that trip to take

place safely. I thought it was a very good instructional video.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency does an excellent job outlining why it is that Canada's food

safety is amongst the best in the world and outlining the measures that are taken.

Yet we hear very little, as you point out, about how pesticides are regulated. Into that vacuum has come a great deal of

fear and misinformation, and as a result there's an erosion of public confidence in the process and in

the very products that are going to be needed in the battle against invasive species.

So the short answer to your question is yes, we would very much like to have Health Canada and its

Pest Management Regulatory Agency take a more public role in outlining the process and showing why

Canadians should have confidence in that science-based regulation.

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Mrs. Stella Ambler

:

Thank you.

Once the pesticides are sold, how is it ensured that they're used in a responsible manner?

Mr. Peter MacLeod:

It's a multi-pronged approach. Federally, there are requirements. A lot of it falls on the provincial

governments to ensure the safe use. One of the things our industry does in partnership with provincial

governments is promote a very strong safe use campaign, because the products are designed to be

used in a certain manner, and certainly the safe application of those products is critical for the safety of

the product itself.

CropLife, for example, in partnership with OMAFRA in Ontario, has sponsored a number of sprayer

clinics for farmers. We teach the farmers how to properly calibrate their sprayers and how to avoid

misapplication or spraying onto sensitive areas. Another thing we've done is to sponsor, along with the

Ontario government, a YouTube-type video, which is new for us, on mitigating drift. The video shows

farmers how to make sure the product is applied right on target and doesn't drift onto a sensitive area.

(1245)

Mrs. Stella Ambler

:

Thank you.

Perhaps you could tell me how provincial pesticide bans, like the one we have in Ontario, affect the

battle against invasive species.

Mr. Dennis Prouse:

It goes back to what I spoke about a little bit earlier, and that's eroding public confidence. The

regulatory process is the same. What we're talking about here is the ban against urban pesticides. You

will see there are various forms of them. In some provinces, you'll see this happen at municipal

councils, and a great deal of very colourful language is used to talk about how dangerous these

pesticides allegedly are. Now, there's never any peer review science to back that up, but that language

is out there.

Mrs. Stella Ambler

:

My husband and the neighbours talk about it all the time.

Mr. Dennis Prouse:

Yet those same products are being used agriculturally. In fact, it's worth noting that I believe–and

Peter, correct me if I get this figure wrong–96% to 97% of our member companies' products are sold

agriculturally, yet it's that 3% to 4% that's used in urban areas that is the subject of such great

debate.

You will see, especially in urban interface areas–and I bet, Mr. Chairman, in Langley you've seen

some of this where urban areas are now creeping into farm areas. People move there, they see

farmers spraying, and they get quite upset. They get quite upset because they've been told by their

provincial government or by their local government that these pesticides are dangerous and these

pesticides are potentially very harmful. It's the same product, regulated by the same respected

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national agency, made in the same place. What it's doing is eroding public confidence in the products

and it's eroding public confidence in the regulatory process.

That's where we find the disconnect and that's what we think is a real problem.

Mrs. Stella Ambler

:

Sure. It is ironic that the same products that you can use on fruits and vegetables that we eat, you

can't use on your front lawn to make it look better.