Sunday, November 28, 2010
The Ontario Pesticide Ban – Year Two
Waiting until February to hear the presentation at the Ontario Turfgrass Symposium of just how great the Ontario pesticide ban is working really makes me want to get a jump start in just how erroneous those claims will be. Bans on products or activities has historically only contributed to one thing – forcing these products or activities underground and out of sight. And unlike armchair environmentalists who make claims to how effective the ban has been, over the past two years I have spoke with not a dozen, or a hundred, but thousands of individual residential homeowners who generally fall into a few categories:
1. People who still do not know there is a pesticide ban.
Even after 2 years, the education of residential homeowners has been lacking. The provincial government has done a poor job of informing the public as to the reasons such a ban was implemented and what the penalties for use are. Melting icecaps and dying polar bears is not education or an explanation. Instead, it is left to the radical and rabid environmental doomsayers to emotionally portray the synthetic pesticide products (2,4-D, imidacloprid, and pyrethrum) as mutagenic and carcinogenic and horrifically deleterious to human and environmental health – contrary to most valid scientific research. Or by the PMRA.
2. People who hoarded product prior to the ban being implemented. A good chunk of people simply stockpiled products prior to the ban and are using them as they see fit – correctly or incorrectly – we’ll never know, since it is now out of reach of provincial oversight and regulation that licensed applicators and companies needed to obey. So the misuse of pesticide products remains – and the ban has ensured this.
3. People who are obtaining products either from other provinces or mostly from across the border in the United States. Enquiries made to the Canada Border Services Agency, as of October 2010, states that there remains no clarification as to the legality of transporting pesticides over the Ontario border from the US – and there doesn’t appear any rush to do so – since these products are legal at the Federal level. Having talked with homeowners who crossed the border, all stated that if the products are declared, there is no hassle in transporting pesticide products into Ontario. Remember, it is not illegal to own or possess these products, only to apply them. Again, the misuse of products remains – thanks to the ban.
Glyphosate. What’s the problem?
Noxious weeds all suffer the same fate from this rapid-uptake, systemic herbicide. The basic mode of action is to block an essential amino-acid in plants so that protein syntheses can’t occur. In a nutshell, the plant starves to death.
The LD50 of glyphosate is about 5600 mg/kg. Or about 1/2 litres of concentrated product, before it’s mixed, before it’s applied (1L = 1kg). That’s 1/2 litre per kg of body weight! If label rates are followed during mixing, the LD50 becomes atmospheric. And that’s for mice. As a comparison, table salt, coffee, and baking soda, all common household products are far more toxic.
The noxious weed you are about to wage war with….let’s call it poison ivy, can deliver a dose of skin-binding allergens in the range of micrograms.
Ok. Just so we’re on the same page, a microgram is one millionth of a gram. A SuperMax jackpot if you hit it right. Or wrong in the case of poison ivy.
But seriously, there are many different ways to apply this product. In suspension, directly, or injected.
Organo-Sol – Another Reduced Risk Herbicide About to Hit the Market
It’s always fun tracking the new organic, safe, natural products…oops….I’ll have to cease and desist. Can’t use the terms natural, organic, safe to describe these products, though that trend continues year after year.
OK. So now we have a bacterial weed control to join our iron chelate and fungal friends. All reduced risk herbicides. This one attacks legume type weeds, namely black medick, which Fiesta doesn’t even put a dent into at the legal label rates.
It’s always good to remember broad-spectrum control methods, and the broadest of all, in an IPM model, is mechanical. What seems to be happening in the reduced risk herbicide market is the complete cantonization of products into specific methods of limited control. And at a very high cost both economically and for environmental sustainability.
Broad-spectrum control is the essence of proper and sound weed management programs. The whole scope of the product is more important than the limited small amounts of control offered by many products.
The reduced risk herbicide market has failed to deliver in this regard.