Exposed : Paddy Running-Horan — Ontario Trillium Foundation Funded Pesticide Activists
This story is a prime example of how the EDUCATION SEGMENT when enacting Pesticide Prohibition always fails. Weed Gee Kidz failed. Corn Gluten Falied. People are expected to live with weeds in Ontario now. Back to being a 50+ Sunshine Girl I guess….
Paddy Running-Horan is the founder of the environmental group
Healthy Lawns-Healthy People which began in 1997. This group was
instrumental in achieving a Pesticide Bylaw in Caledon (the second
in an Ontario municipality) and then a province-wide bylaw for Ontario
against the cosmetic use of pesticides on lawns and gardens.She is a proud member of ecoCaledon
and sits on the boards of Green T and the Caledon Countryside Alliance. Karen Hutchinson and
Paddy began the Weedgee Kidz program which has been recognized across the province.
The Weedgee Kidz is an innovative non-profit initiative designed to educate residentsin the Town of Caledon, Ontario on alternatives to synthetic pesticides for lawnmaintenance purposes.
The Weedgee Kidz are teams of local high school student volunteers each supervisedby a paid university student team leaders. Clad in Weedgee Kidz gear, and carryingtheir weed picking devices, teams travel throughout Caledon's villages offering weed-pulling demonstrations, and lawn care advice to homeowners.
Town of Caledon
Type of resource:
great ideas (local success stories to copy)
Habitat protection, Waterways and watersheds
Agriculture and food, Energy, Water
Air quality, Water quality
Caledon Countryside Alliance in partnership with Healthy LawnsHealthy People
The Weedgee Kidz have run for two consecutive years (May -August 2003-2004) with an additional summer spent piloting the program (2002). Inthis time well over 600 home visits have been completed with many of thesehomeowners deciding to stop or decrease pesticide use for lawn care.
This summer alone student volunteers contributed over 400 hours to the program.
Funders: EcoAction (2003-2004), Town of Caledon, Summer Career Placements (HRDC), Citizens for a Clean Caledon, The Ontario Trillium Foundation through the Caledon Countryside Alliances Reducing your Ecological Footprint Campaign, Caledon Countryside Alliance
CALEDON COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE (CCA)
The Caledon Countryside Alliance is a grassroots non-profit community-based organization.
In 1998, the group formed with the mandate "Countryside is an Option". The CCA provides
membership and community programs primarily for residents in Caledon, but also for
residents in the Headwaters Region.
The CCA offers a number of community programs: membership program, ecological
footprint, Weedgee Kidz, Caledon Dufferin Residential Energy Efficiency Project (REEP), Buy
Local, Building a Local Food System, Well Aware, Idle Free School Zones, and Step Up to
Kyoto and Clean Air/Clean Energy.
The following summarizes some of their major accomplishments:
Produced an Ecological Footprint for the Caledon area.
By means of the Weedgee Kidz Program, 700 home visits, focusing on pesticide free education, were delivered to local residents.
Since 2003, CCA has coordinated an annual Dandelion Festival and Organic Lawn and Garden Tour.
Delivered 150 EnerGuide for Houses assessments which result in on average 26% in annual energy costs.
Produced a Buy Local Guide for the Headwaters Region in 2002.
Organized two major local food events for the Toronto Food Policy Council in 2003 and 2004. In 2004 the Farmers Market Event was co-sponsored by the CCA.
Coordinated Well Aware community information forums in 2003 and 2004.
Partnered with 12 local schools to deliver idle free programming and education.
Actively promotes the Federal Government's One Tonne Challenge Program.
Re: Re-evaluation of the Lawn and Turf Uses of 2,4-D Reference # PACR2005-01
Founded in 1999, Pesticide Free Ontario (PFO) is a network of over 100 individuals and
organizations working to replace the non-essential use of pesticides with sustainable, non-toxic
alternatives. PFO works with environmental organizations, labour unions, scientists, health
professionals and municipalities to restrict pesticide use on public and private property.
Unlike the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), Pesticide Free Ontario believes
that the use of 2,4-D to treat lawns and turf poses an unacceptable risk to human health,
particularly children, and the environment. Our concerns are as follows:
1. The re-evaluation was released before promulgation of the new Pest Control Products Act
meaning Canadians do not have access to all of the studies on which the re-evaluation was based.
Given the widespread potential for exposure from this pesticide on urban lawns, it is unacceptable
that 2,4-D was re-evaluated under the outdated system of secrecy and corporate protection.
2. Canada’s pesticide regulatory system does not take into account the existence of least toxic
alternatives for pest control. 2,4-D is used primarily on turfgrass to control broad-leaved weeds
such as dandelions. Good cultural practices such as mowing high, over-seeding with appropriate
grass types and handweeding are the preferred methods to maintain a healthy lawn as
recommended by practitioners of pesticide-free lawn care. With federally registered least toxic
herbicidal products such as corn gluten meal (Sept. 2003) proving to be 83% effective at
controlling broad leaf weeds, 2,4-D should not be approved for home lawn use. It is a clear
contradiction of the objective of Health Canada's Healthy Lawn Strategy with its "particular
emphasis on pest prevention, use of reduced risk products and application of pesticides only when
3. Improved labeling will not protect Canadians from the adverse effects of 2,4
-D. In her2003 report to the House of Commons, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable
Development stated that the PMRA assumes pesticide users will follow label instructions.
However, the Agency’s own compliance reports show that pesticide users may not follow label
directions. Protection of our most vulnerable populations - fetuses, infants, children, seniors and those
suffering from environmental illnesses and suppressed immune systems – will not be best
achieved by reading label directions.
The PMRA underestimates the risks of pesticide use because the actual impact of user’s
practices on human health and the environment are not measured.
PFO notes that pesticide label violations are the norm rather than the exception:
a) The 2,4-D label states “Keep out of the reach of children” yet retail outlets continue to
store products containing 2,4-D on the floor. In some instances, bags of granular weed and
feed products are ripped and the contents easily accessible to toddlers and young children.
b) Applicators are told to wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, protective eyewear and
gloves. Standard clothing for many pesticide applicators is short-sleeved T-shirts and
c) The label also states that two applications per year of 2-4-D are sufficient and the PMRA
assumes in the re-evaluation that this is the application norm. However, many chemical
lawn care companies provide three applications of 2,4-D in their standard programs and
also advertise guaranteed weed control in their packages that can exceed that. Situations
like these prove that the PMRA is not including real-life practices in its decision making
d) PFO does not believe that any parent would willingly expose their child to a product that
may cause adverse effects such as severe eye irritation, coughing, burning, dizziness,
temporary loss of muscle coordination, fatigue, muscle weakness or nausea as listed on the
2,4-D label. Allowing the continued use of 2,4-D on the lawns where the children of
Canada play is in direct conflict with the stated goal of Health Canada, which is to maintain
and improve our health.
4. PFO is concerned about the weight given to the value of 2,4-D. PMRA rejects dicamba,
mecoprop and MCPA as replacements for 2,4-D but does not appear to have considered the least
toxic products and practices, mentioned above, that are used successfully by individuals and
organic lawn care services.
5. The most recent reference cited is dated 1976. Research about pesticide free lawn care has
exploded in the past 10 years. In assessing the value of 2,4-D, PMRA must rely on current
evidence not outdated materials. Reliance on out-of-date research leaves us with the impression
that the chemical lawn care industry’s potential lost profits are carrying greater weight than the
protection of health and the environment.
6. PFO is concerned about dioxin contamination in products containing 2,4
-D. Unless products containing 2,4-D are randomly and independently tested at regular intervals, there is no
evidence that dioxin contamination is not present. PMRA is requesting data from manufacturers to
confirm the absence of some forms but not all forms of dioxin. It is unacceptable to allow the
continued use of 2,4-D on turf with this significant data gap. The only acceptable amount of dioxin
– any type of dioxin – is zero.
7. The re-evaluation notes, “a preliminary study reported fewer fetal implantations in 2,4-D
treated rats (sic), errors in the study design negated the study authors’ interpretation (Cavieres et al
2002).” (p.9). This peer reviewed study of mice treated with very low levels of off-the-shelf 2,4-D
resulting in lowered fertility is preliminary evidence of the dangers of exposure to 2,4-D. Could PMRA
please provide PFO with the evidence to justify the dismissal of this study?
8. We also note that the bystander study carries a lot of weight in the re-evaluation. Could PMRA provide
PFO with the details of studies that have replicated the findings of the Solomon studies?
Pesticide Free Ontario believes that the use of 2,4-D on home lawns in Canada must stop
immediately. There are effective and non-toxic alternatives. Perhaps PMRA considers the health
dangers linked to exposure to 2,4-D to be acceptable but we, the member organizations of
Pesticide Free Ontario, do not. It is time for Health Canada to practice the precautionary principle
protect the health of Canadians.
PFO Steering Committee
Janet May, Pesticide Free Ontario – Campaing Director, Toronto Environmental Alliance
Susan Koswan, Get Rid of Urban Pesticides
Sari Merson, York Region Environmental Alliance
Paddy Running Horan, Healthy People, Healthy Lawns
Peter Walling, York Region Environmental Alliance
Marcie Goldman, Toronto Pesticide Watch
Bonnie Henderson, Groundswell – CAW Local 4451
Tania Orton, Gardens Off Drugs – Green Party of Canada Candidate 2004
Environmental Groups Seek Leave to Intervene in Supreme Court of Canada Case on Pesticide By-Laws
Jan 14 2000
Toronto. Eleven environmental groups yesterday applied to the Supreme Court of Canada to intervene in a challenge by two lawn care companies against a bylaw in Hudson, Quebec which bans the use of pesticides in the town.
Chemlawn and Spray-Tech had argued and lost in both the Quebec Superior Court and the Quebec Court of Appeal that the municipality did not have the authority to implement the pesticide ban. Both courts decided that Hudson had acted to protect the health of its residents and upheld the bylaw.
"The Hudson by-law was an important first step towards protecting Canadians from unsolicited pesticide exposure," says Janet May, Pesticide Campaign Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance, one of the lead groups in the application. "There are effective alternatives to lawn care pesticides and the bylaw in Hudson forced companies operating within the town to use non-toxic methods of lawn maintenance."
After the decisions by the Quebec Superior Court and the Quebec Court of Appeal, other municipalities in Quebec passed by-laws restricting or banning pesticide use on both publicly and privately owned green space.
"The Supreme Court decision will be an important precedent as to what steps any municipality in Canada may take in controlling the local use of pesticides," says Theresa McClenaghan of the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), acting as counsel to the groups.
The case will be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada later this year.
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For more information:
Theresa McClenaghan, CELA Counsel, or Paul Muldoon, Executive Director, 416-960-2284
Janet May, Pesticide Campaign Director, Toronto Environmental Alliance 416- 596-0660