Strong evidence backs pesticide ban

Re: Cosmetic pesticide ruling troubling, Reporter’s Viewpoint, June 12.

To the Editor,

Re: Cosmetic pesticide ruling troubling, Reporter’s Viewpoint, June 12.

I am a retired middle-level federal public servant, familiar with the pesticide evaluation process.

The evidence to support a provincewide ban in B.C. isn’t lacking. What is lacking is goodwill and willingness to examine the issues dispassionately and intelligently.

Under the leadership of Bill Bennett the committee produced a deplorable report, ignoring both the scientific evidence of pesticide harm and the experience of provinces which banned the cosmetic use of pesticides.

Instead, the committe was swayed by industry’s propaganda singing the undeserved praises of Health Canada.

Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency doesn’t pursue independent research. It employs mainly toxicologists (rodent specialists) and very few epidemiologists (human specialists).

The PMRA has no labs of its own and fully depends on data submitted by the industry. Vital information – on the controversial 2,4-D dioxin, for example – may be withheld from the PMRA by the industry with complete impunity.

The Standing Committee on Health of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session, were told in April 2005 that the PMRA is not to be trusted.

Among PMRA’s shortcomings were listed the inappropriate use of safety factors in human health risks assessment concerning seniors, pregnant women, children and fetuses as well as ignoring cumulative and combined exposures.

Note that the PMRA is partially funded by the pesticide industry.

Meg Sears, an independent biochemist, found the 2008 review of the omnipresent herbicide 2,4-D by the PMRA completely inadequate, explaining that among other things, the PMRA ignored 2,4-D’s links to breast and prostate cancers. (Notice of Objection to a Registration Decision, 2008.)

It is not true that pesticide bans are hindering the fight against invasive weeds, as exemptions are readily provided for this purpose.

It is news to me that the agency’s pesticide approval is based on the assumption that label instructions are not followed. On the contrary, the assumption made is that label instructions are followed.

The committee disgraced itself by suggesting that scientific evidence “wasn’t there at this time.” It most definitely was there, but the committee was swayed by industry’s self-serving propaganda and false information about the pesticide approval process in Ottawa.

K. Jean Cottam, PhD


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