Problems With Pesticide Ban
The province government needs to address some concerns about its proposed cosmetic pesticide ban, says the president of Keystone Agricultural Producers.
Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh announced last week that legislation will be introduced in fall that will ban synthetic weed control products beginning in December 2014, with a one-year grace period. The prohibition will apply to lawns, driveways, sidewalks and patios, as well as school grounds, playing fields, playgrounds and on health-care institution and child-care centre grounds.
"They're ignoring the fact these products are safe and have been used for many years," says KAP president Doug Chorney. "We certainly support the idea of safer product use, but we would have preferred an educational approach rather than what they've come forward with."
Although the ban doesn't apply to farmland, he says the spread of noxious weeds will hurt farmers financially.
"People find that hard to understand, but we often have to make extra applications of products to control dandelions because of a lack of control on private property. Now we're going to see homeowners with less tools to protect their property from weeds, and more weeds being spread to farmland," he says.
Chorney points out pesticide prohibitions in other jurisdictions have driven homeowners to acquire weed control products from alternative sources.
"It doesn't mean people stop using them. I don't think the government has the resources to have dandelion police," he says, noting it's less likely that people who acquire pesticides through unregulated means will receive information on how to properly apply the chemicals. "Rather than improving product use, it could become worse. You'll have people buying products for other people and giving it to them in unmarked containers. It's just not a good approach to improving product use."
The province also needs to determine if bio-pesticides are actually safer than conventional products, says Chorney. As an example, he says he has concerns about a specific product known as "Fiesta" which was promoted by Mackintosh in last week's announcement.
"It's of similar toxicity as products such as Killex and glyphosate, but you have to put 25 times the concentration on to get any control," he explains. "So you're taking a product of equivalent toxicity and putting it on at 25 times the rate. I don't think that's safer."
It appears the provincial government is under the influence of activists who are spreading myths about pesticide use, says Chorney.
"They've landed solidly here in Manitoba and are being heard by the government. Unfortunately they perpetuate a lot of misinformation and it's not making the public any safer," he says. "This is a bad direction for government policy. We should be following a science-based approach."