Time to kill the spray

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It seems logical that, eventually, P.E.I. will ban pesticides – at least when they are used for cosmetic lawn purposes.

Yes, it would indeed seem logical – but for some reason logic doesn’t always seem to play the role it ought to.

Five Canadian provinces do have bans on cosmetic lawn spraying, but not P.E.I.

Could that be about to change? We hope so and so do at least a few other Islanders. In fact there is a group of them now calling on the government to pass legislation that would protect us from the potential risks associated with cosmetic pesticides.

Pesticide Free P.E.I., described as a grassroots group advocating for the prevention of pesticide-related health risks, has made its dealings with the government public after seeing little progress during private emails and conversations made during the past year.

The group wants the public to pressure the provincial government to ban spraying cosmetic pesticides near playgrounds, daycares, schools, bus stops, hospitals and senior citizen complexes. That would be a start, but honestly, in cases of curb-appeal only spraying, there is no real justification. Dandelions are not so ugly that we ought to risk poisoning our environment. In fact, in a pinch, they are even edible; you can’t say that about the spray we use to kill them.

We acknowledge that there is as yet no irrefutable proof that cosmetic pesticides will kill us. But there have been cases of people and pets feeling quite unwell after being exposed to chemical spraying. And considering the risks, do we need science to clear it up beyond any possible doubt before we act? It seems more logical (there’s that word again) in cases like this that we let science work the other way – prove beyond any doubt first that it won’t kill or make us sick, then approve it.

Roger Gordon, a spokesperson for the Pesticide Free P.E.I. group, and a former UPEI biologist, said he also would like to see a complete ban here, but added that right now the group’s focus is on protecting the most vulnerable members of society – children and seniors. To that end his group has requested a 25-metre buffer zone near areas frequented by seniors and children.

With other provinces already leading the way, let’s hope Island legislators soon get on board.

It could be many decades before we see the effects of long-term exposure. Knowing that, a lack of scientific certainty ought not be used as an excuse for government inaction.


Organizations: Islanders, Pesticide Free P.E.I.

Geographic location: Iceland

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Recent comments

  • Know the diff
    July 25, 2014 - 12:16

    Cosmetic "herbicides" are used to control weeds. Pesticides are used to control insect pests. Herbicides are spayed on nearly every farm field in PEI. Every potato, corn, soybean, and canola field (unless it is organic) is drenched in herbicide to kill weeds. The health effects of herbicides on humans is often debated, however the product packaging readily admits in bold print "TOXIC TO AQUATIC ORGANISMS". On the other hand, pesticides are meant to kill insects. There is no denying that many pesticides are fatally poisonous to humans as many contain neurotoxins. Once again, the packaging boldly states "POISON"!

  • bill griffin
    July 24, 2014 - 18:17

    joke what about all the farm spray no don't say anything about that maybe it might a farm friend or neighbor angry