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ENVI Committee Meeting

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[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

Thursday, November 25, 1999

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The Chair (The Hon. Charles Caccia (Davenport, Lib.)): Good day, ladies and gentlemen.


I would like to thank members, or those in this room, for appearing on time, thus permitting us to start. We have quorum.

I appreciate very much the presence of the member from the Progressive Conservative Party, which gives us the necessary minimum.

The lineup today consists of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture; the Crop Protection Institute; the Canadian Horticultural Council; and AGCare.

Welcome to the committee, lady and gentlemen. We appreciate very much your presence. You know what we have undertaken to do. Therefore, we would ask you to give us the benefit of your views, possibly in ten-minute presentations.

The question is, who would like to go first?

Mr. Friesen, if you would like to go first, please go ahead.

Mr. Bob Friesen (President, Canadian Federation of Agriculture): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for the invitation and for allowing us to come before you to talk about our concerns as well as some of the positive things that are happening in the industry.

I will cite the following from the 1997 CFA policy book:

    Canadian agriculture occupies a large and important part of the Canadian environment. The farm community is the chief custodian and manager of extensive natural, mineral and biological resources, owner and architect of much of the landscape and the protector of a precious soil resource. In its concern for the environmental fabric of Canada the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) believes that great importance should be placed on measures of environmental management to ensure maintenance of land resources which provide food for the people of Canada and a large part of the world's population.

There is a growing awareness in Canada of the relationship between agricultural production and environmental issues. As stewards of the land, Canadian farmers are aware of their responsibilities to the environment and are taking positive steps to ensure the environmental sustainability of their industry is maintained.

Canadian farmers are leaders in sustainable agricultural practices. Long before environmental concerns became familiar to the general population, Canadian farmers were developing techniques that benefit Canada's greatest agricultural asset, the soil.

Soil structure improves with increased organic matter and decreased erosion. Agricultural practices that are beneficial to the soil and that are widely used in Canada include conservation tillage, residue management, and extended crop rotation through forage and erosion control.

I might add that in today's environment, with the income problems farmers are having, very often getting a better bottom line in fact improves their management practices.

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Canadian farmers are pioneers in the development of conservation tillage, which includes no-till and low-till practices. These practices, rarely seen 30 years ago, were used on 16% and 31% respectively of Canada's seeded cropland in 1996. Studies have shown that these techniques offer enormous benefits to farmers, including reduced fuel consumption, less soil erosion, reduced soil compaction, increased crop yields, and higher organic matter in the soil.

Only the minimum level of pesticides required in modern agricultural production is used by farmers in Canada. Canadian farmers compare very favourably to both their European and American counterparts in the amount of pesticides used. As a result of such improved management practices as integrated pest management and other initiatives, Canadian farmers use only a minimal level of pesticides in their farm management practices. Other factors contributing to reduced pesticide use are Canada's shorter growing season and the killing frosts that control pest populations.

Manure is a natural product of livestock operations and also plays an important role in agricultural sustainability as an economical source of nutrients for crops and organic matter for the soil. Thus, it protects the soil against erosion. Canadian farmers recognize that water quality from manure runoff and odour are the two most prominent environmental issues. Consequently, they are taking steps to develop new technologies and are adopting the best manure management practices to ensure the preservation of the soil and water resources. The adoption of such practices demonstrates that farmers take very seriously their stewardship responsibilities in promoting environmental sustainability.

With regard to the CFA and the registration of pesticides, the ability of farmers to have timely access to new products for use in pest management is extremely important to our members. Canadian growers are often frustrated by the number of new products that are under consideration for registration in the U.S. regulatory system but not in our own. Inquiries to the manufacturers about these disparities often reveal that companies feel the Canadian regulatory system is too arduous and too expensive for them to efficiently introduce the product into the Canadian market.

While it is encouraging to hear that we have a stringent regulatory system, we are concerned that it is not allowing for the registration of new, and in most instances more environmentally friendly, products.

It is important to bear in mind that farmers and their families often live on the land where they produce their crops. When deciding upon products to use in their pest management regimes, they are very conscious of the impact of the product on not only the environment but also human health, and on the health of their own families.

We have repeatedly heard from growers that the major benefit they see from the use of biotechnology is the reduction in the number of products they must use to control pests on their crops. Many commodity groups across Canada have begun to work closely with their U.S. counterparts to identify their future needs. As growers lose the use of older products through the re-evaluation process, it is of vital importance to the industry that we have alternative products.

To this end, the CFA has participated in a number of NAFTA technical working groups designed to encourage the joint registration of products in the U.S. and Canada simultaneously. If Canadian farmers are to remain competitive in the global market, we must ensure that they have access to products being used in other developed countries. We have come to appreciate the fact that the PMRA is a leader in trying to develop a harmonized registration system through the NAFTA and OECD processes.

Over the past few years, farmers have been faced with a severe income crisis. Some are facing the worst income levels since 1933. As business people, farmers have been forced to look at areas where they can lower their input costs. One of these areas is reducing the amount they spend on pest control products and fertilizers. Growers have always been stewards of the land, and this recent income crisis has emphasized their need for an economic approach to farming.

Many commodity groups and farmers have become increasingly involved in integrated pest management programs that use a combination of biological, cultural, physical, and chemical tools to manage pests so that the benefits of pest control are maximized and the health and the environmental risks are minimized.

I'll very quickly mention CFA's involvement with the PMRA. In addition to participating in a number of the IPM programs organized by the PMRA and the NAFTA processes, as previously mentioned, the CFA has dealt with the agency on a number of other issues. We have a seat on both the Economic Management Advisory Committee and the Pest Management Advisory Council, and we have been encouraged by the improvements made to the regulatory system because of the work being done at EMAC.

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One of our main concerns with re-evaluation was that resources for completing the re-evaluations would be taken out of new product registration, but at a past EMAC meeting, we learned that this was not the intention of the PMRA. The agency recognized the importance to farmers of continuing to process new products in a timely manner. As stated earlier, it is of extreme importance to the farming community that if older products are taken off the market due to a health or safety concern, there must be alternative products.

In the competitive global market, we are continuing to encourage registrants to consider the joint registration process to ensure that Canadian farmers have access to products that are available for use in other OECD countries, the U.S. in particular.

The CFA is also involved in the PMAC process. Although PMAC offers a good opportunity to address issues, it must be kept in mind that the number of industry stakeholders at the table is very limited. There is more representation from environmental groups on the council, and the positions put forward by the chair are often reflective of that composition.

In conclusion, the CFA has expressed some concerns in the past about the management system at the PMRA, but through our close involvement with the agency at EMAC, PMAC, and NAFTA, we are encouraged that, after the initial transition phase, recognition of the needs of the farming community has improved significantly.

The priority of our member organizations is to produce the safest and highest-quality food possible to consumers while at the same time improving upon ways to reduce the impact on the environment. In order to continue to do this, we must have a science-based regulatory system and a government that is willing to provide producers with the tools necessary to do their jobs efficiently and effectively.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Friesen.

Would you like to be next, Mr. Hepworth?

Mr. Lorne Hepworth (President, Crop Protection Institute): Yes, thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I first would like to introduce the colleagues with me today—Mr. Charlie Milne, vice-president of government affairs with the institute, and Ms. Denise Dewar, our manager of scientific affairs.

As well, I'd like to express my appreciation to the chair and members of the committee for the invitation to appear before you here today.

The Crop Protection Institute represents the manufacturers, developers, and distributors of plant life science solutions—that is, pesticides and genetically modified plants and seeds—for agriculture, forestry, and pest management in Canada. It is involved in all aspects of industry-wide education, communication, and legislation appropriate to protecting Canada's crops. The institute and its members are committed to the safe manufacture, transport, storage, and use of its products.

We are pleased to be here with you today to give our perspective on the regulation of pesticides and to tell you what our industry is doing to ensure that our products offer Canadians the greatest possible benefits with the lowest possible risk.

We recognize that the focus of your current study is on the regulation of pesticides by government. It is because crop protection products have a positive role in the production of a high-quality, safe, and abundant food supply that the institute calls for a regulatory system that is both efficient and effective.

In our written brief, we have made a number of specific recommendations in response to the May 1999 report of the environment commissioner. As an industry, we support government's ongoing role in the regulation of pest control products. That being said, we would like you to know that the makers of pesticides feel a strong responsibility for ensuring that our products do not present unacceptable risks. We're working together as an industry to ensure that our products are safe and beneficial to users, the general population, and the environment.

Pest management has changed a great deal, even in the past decade. Today pesticides are typically applied in grams rather than in kilograms per hectare. They are more effective than ever while being less toxic to people, more target-specific, and more environmentally friendly.

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Many of the new plant protection products are completely biodegradable within two weeks of application. In the development of new pesticides, scientists search for effective modes of action and then develop the molecule that will directly affect the pest, whether it is a weed, insect, or fungus. The goal is to limit unacceptable effects on non-targeted species.

Another significant factor in the evolution of crop protection has been the use of integrated pest management systems. Integrated pest management solutions focus on using combinations of techniques, such as chemical control, natural antagonists, and sound agronomic practices to manage pests.

It's easy for us to come here today and tell you we support environmental protection; however, we do want you to know that our industry does more than just talk about the environment. We are taking concrete action. We are walking the talk. So over the next few minutes I would like to tell you about our Stewardship First program, a complete accountability program through which pesticide manufacturers work to protect the environment throughout the life cycle of our products. I would refer you to the diagram, the schematic representation of these programs, attached to my speaking remarks, as well as on page 10 of our brief.

Stewardship First represents three-quarters of the institute's annual spending—spending not on lobbying, not on public relations, but on straight product stewardship.

The money is collected from our manufacturers by assessing a levy on every package or container sold in Canada. Since the mid-1980s the institute has implemented a series of initiatives encompassing the total product life cycle Stewardship First program. They include manufacturing, warehousing, and marketing standards; training and certification; grower safety; and empty container and obsolete or unwanted pesticide collection.

You will find short descriptions of each of these elements of the program in the appendix of our written brief. What is most exciting about Stewardship First is the fact that several of the initiatives have been supported not just by manufacturers, but also by growers, retailers, academic institutions, and indeed governments.

The Stewardship First program is evidence of the power that can be harnessed through voluntary initiatives. These are not just feel-good programs; we are achieving measurable results.

For example, since the launch of our warehousing standards program, insurance rates for warehouses have declined from $4,500 to $800 annually, on average, a clear sign that insurers recognize that risks from agrichemical storage have declined significantly. No major fire or spill has occurred since the program was put in place. All pesticide warehouses, all 1,800 in Canada, must be certified under this program by a third-party auditor. No certificate? Then business is cut off and no pesticides are shipped to the location.

Another measurable result is the graduation of 300 certified crop protection consultants since 1997, trained through the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Guelph. A further 300 individuals are registered to complete the course. The certified crop protection consultant program provides an important resource and informed support to dealers and growers on pest management issues. This additional training requirement posed by the institute is remarkable in that virtually all of these individuals already have post-secondary education, very often a bachelor of science and agriculture degree.

Yet another milestone for Stewardship First is the distribution of more than 16,000 copies of our pesticide safety handbook to growers since 1996. This handbook covers the fundamentals of pesticide risk management, including good stewardship practices, protective equipment, storage, and emergency response. The goal is to have this handbook read and understood by every farmer across Canada. Free copies are distributed to the farm safety organizations as well as rural community groups.

Quite simply, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, we are world leaders in product stewardship. This fact is supported by the recovery rate achieved through our container management initiative, a program designed to ensure that empty pesticide containers are removed from the environment and safely recycled or disposed of.

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During the 1998 growing season, over 4.5 million containers were collected from Canadian farms, and at the recovery rate of 62% we continue to lead the world in this area. Germany's program, mandated through legislation, brings in 50%, and the U.S. collects approximately 25%. More than 40 million empty pesticide containers have been removed from the environment since the inception of this container management program in 1989. The plastic containers are currently recycled into farm-use fence posts and highway guardrails, or they are used for their energy value in kilns.

Finally, our obsolete unwanted pesticide collection program has been made possible through the cooperation of the governments of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan, as well as the federal government's Agricultural Adaptation and Rural Development Fund. Tens of thousands of kilograms of obsolete products have been collected and safely disposed of thus far.

I hope this gives you some idea of what we have accomplished so far, and we recognize that we can't stop here. The crop protection industry must continue to manage the product life cycle responsibly and demonstrate that responsibility to others.

To us Stewardship First is more than a set of standards and codes. It is an ethic that influences all our actions.

For our specific recommendations on how to improve the pest management regulatory system in Canada, I would refer you to our written brief. However, one overarching recommendation I would like to make is that in finding ways to enhance environmental protection, you encourage the sustenance and development of voluntary accountability programs such as Stewardship First.

Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, that concludes our presentation, and we would be pleased to answer questions you might have at the appropriate time.

Thank you very much.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Hepworth.

Who would like to be next? Mr. Cameron.

Mr. Ron Cameron (Chairman, Crop Protection Committee, Canadian Horticultural Council): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to the committee for providing this opportunity for the Canadian Horticultural Council to present to you some of our views on the pesticide safety issue.

Let me first say I agree completely with the statement of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture in that their approach is overarching and certainly includes any comment that we may offer in support of it.

First of all, I'm a farmer from southwestern Ontario. I grow processing vegetables, grain and livestock on a farm that goes back five generations. My alter occupation is to work for the Canadian Horticultural Council as chair of our crop protection committee in trying to achieve, for Canadian producers of horticultural crops, sufficiency of technology to continue to remain competitive in our global economy.

Certainly the horticultural industry in Canada includes about 20,000 horticultural producers in all 10 provinces. Over 150 different fruits and vegetables are grown in Canada and supplied to Canadian consumers in the safest and most cost-expeditious programs that supporting industries, such as the technology providers at the Canadian Crop Protection Institute, can provide.

We represent a major portion of Canadian producers in some provinces, principal crops like apples, potatoes, processing vegetables, right down to radishes, rutabagas, or turnips, as we may call them.

One of our major cost inputs, of course, is the technology to protect those crops against pests, insects, weeds, and diseases that may affect them. We continually work with groups to provide the best environmental and health protection we can offer through programs such as integrated pest management in order to achieve those ends and to achieve them with an economical benefit to farmers.

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The production of fruits and vegetables for the Canadian market represents about $840 million. However, the imports of the same products into Canada represent approximately $3.43 billion. In other words, almost $3 out of every $4 that is spent by Canadian consumers for fruits and vegetables is for an imported product.

It is very important that the horticultural industry in Canada remain technologically competitive in order to provide these crops to the Canadian consumer in a competitive manner. We need all the support we can get from providers of the most recent technology in order to meet that need, and we must say that at the present time the support in order to get that is inadequate.

This issue becomes even more critical with the introduction of the Food Quality Protection Act in the United States. This act requires that almost 10,000 different food residues be re-evaluated on major new bases for risk evaluation. Those risks now include an aggregate and cumulative risk and a new, 10-fold safety factor for infants and children, as well as looking at the possibility of any endocrine disruption that may occur. These re-evaluations have been underway in the United States since 1996, and the first one-third of those evaluations have now been completed.

The impact to the Canadian producer is that there will be significant reductions in the availability of materials in order to allow Canadian producers to remain competitive. As these products are removed from the market, decisions are being made in the United States to take pesticides off the market or to reduce their use and put alternatives in place. Those same alternatives are not likely to be put in place in Canada because of the economic position required in order to provide profitability.

In order to achieve some of these things, PMRA has undertaken a re-evaluation of pesticides used on food and non-food crops. This re-evaluation may lead to a revocation of some tools currently used on fruit and vegetable crops. In order to respond to growers' needs and to ensure that Canadian growers remain competitive in the marketplace, we need to have access to new technologies that will develop new, reduced-risk pesticides for use on minor crops and reduced-risk use patterns for existing pesticide registrations, along with the registration of pesticides essential to integrated pest management systems and of biologically based pest control products for use on minor crops.

PMRA, through its Alternative Strategies Division, is promoting this approach by participating in the NAFTA Technical Working Group; encouraging manufacturers to submit joint reviews; establishing procedures and regulations to facilitate access to safer crop protection tools; and at the same time, I might say, reducing the resources necessary to copycat evaluations done in other jurisdictions around the world.

Horticultural producers are conscious that a risk reduction strategy needs to be put in place in order to minimize the impact of pesticide use. Research is a key element needed to identify products that could replace existing registrations with low-risk alternatives, to explore risk mitigation methods for existing registrations that are deemed essential by crop producers, and to develop microbial and biochemical pesticides.

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In order for Canadian producers to maintain a competitive position in the marketplace, it is imperative that we avoid trade irritants and find solutions to replace products that may be lost as a result of re-evaluations. An important step in reaching this goal is the development and implementation of transition strategies in order to register new, reduced-risk pesticides that will be safer for human health and the environment.

As an industry we offer the following recommendations for consideration: the governments of Canada and the United States should intensify efforts to harmonize and synchronize the pesticide registration process. Pesticides deemed safe for use in one country should be deemed safe in the other country, given access to the same data. Given the potential impact of product reviews in light of changes in the U.S. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and through the Food Quality Protection Act, including tolerance reviews, the need for harmonization is more critical than ever.

We further recommend that the governments of Canada and the United States should jointly seek harmonized pesticide residue levels for specific products; where feasible and appropriate, product labels should be harmonized for use in Canada and the United States; and Codex registrations should be sought for pesticide products used in Canada and the United States. The above recommendations should be fully pursued in order to avoid future trade barriers and/or irritants in this industry between the United States and Canada.

Thank you very much for the opportunity.

The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Cameron.

Mr. Wilson, go ahead, please.

Mr. Jeff Wilson (Executive Member, AGCare (Toronto)): My name is Jeff Wilson. I'm a small fruit producer of strawberries and raspberries, along with vegetables, located north of Toronto.

I'm here to give a perspective as to where AGCare is coming from on a number of these issues. AGCare stands for Agricultural Groups Concerned About Resources in the Environment. It's a coalition of 16 Ontario farm organizations representing 45,000 field and horticultural producers. There's a list of the membership in the brief.

Our organization was formed to provide a vehicle through which Ontario crop producers could speak with a unified voice on crop protection and related environmental issues. Our activities focus on public awareness—and I would stress awareness over education—communication, and policy initiatives on behalf of the farmers we represent. We would deal with things on a provincial level. We would flow things nationally through both the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and the Canadian Horticultural Council.

A list of activities AGCare has been involved with or has instigated in the province of Ontario on behalf of farmers is as follows: probably one of the more notable ones is the Ontario grower pesticide safety course, which is a mandatory course to provide farmers with an adequate level of awareness and training on how they go about utilizing and making decisions regarding pest management on their farms.

AGCare had a unified voice in the federal pesticide registration review. We provided agricultural input on initiatives such as waste pesticide collection back in 1992, when this issue was just starting to come to light. We see a need for further initiatives.

Currently, we're getting vibrations from the back roads that there appears to be a needs bill. Farmers in Ontario have taken control of where we feel the environmental needs are and have put that into action through the Ontario environmental farm plan; nutrient management work; water quality initiatives; and, as mentioned by previous speakers, the waste pesticide container program. In Ontario we're now achieving about an 80% return level. We feel we have a program in that. We also recycle them into fence posts that are used in agriculture, a complete life cycle of stewardship in a sense.

We continue to monitor pesticide issues on behalf of our membership and to provide information on use to media, government, and concerned citizens. Farmers in Ontario, and elsewhere for that matter, are committed to reducing pesticide use. In fact, it's working. According to data gathered through surveys on usage by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs, since 1983, pesticide usage has declined by 40.7%. The goal of a 50% reduction in use, as outlined back in 1989 in the Food Systems 2002 initiative, is within reach.

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The availability of newer, safer pesticides and mandatory training and certification courses for agricultural users have been instrumental in helping us achieve the present level. Biotechnology offers great potential for allowing us to make even further reductions in pesticide use. As well, though, we continue to press for the Canadian registration of newer, safer products already available for pest control in other countries, such as the United States.

Referring to some highlights of the 1998 pesticide use survey, as I mentioned, overall use is down by 40.7%. But if we start focusing on the areas where we still need to have some input, some research, some further analysis, I would focus in, as did the previous speaker, Ron Cameron, on the minor-use area.

Pesticides in some food and potato crops were down in 1998, especially for insecticide. Why? In part, it reflects the control now attained for things such as the Colorado potato beetle with the registration of Admire, and the oriental fruit moth with the temporary registration of Lorsban. We highlight those two items simply because there is a significant reduction in the use of insecticides in those two crops.

Those two new registrations have assisted in getting the pest population in check, but it should also be mentioned that an integrated approach to pest management on a number of crops, especially those two, is being actively pursued out there.

That brings to light the need for new technology, expeditiously approved, to reduce reliance on older pest control products, and this is of particular concern in the minor-use area. In the minor-use crops, the tools available are, in some cases, the product of 40-year-old technology. However, we need access to newer tech tools before we discard the old ones. We may want to get into some discussion on things such as where some of these older products are and how they fit in looking down the road.

We've also provided the committee with an analysis we've done of the World Wildlife report, Problems With Pesticides in Canada, which was presented last summer to parliamentarians. We felt a need to give a farmer's response to that simply because it was out in the public domain. There are areas in that document we agree with and areas we strongly disagree with, as well as areas where we think they flat out made mistakes in terms of the accuracy of what they've presented.

In a sense, and in collaboration with the other colleagues at the table here, concerning the role of the companies in looking down the road and providing the solutions to our needs, I think we're seeing some improvement there in the relationship. I'd like to see more, and maybe we can get into some discussion on that with our colleagues representing the companies.

As to the role of PMRA, is it perfect? No, it's not perfect yet. Have we seen some progress? As farmers, I think we have to acknowledge there has been some progress. Mainly, we're here to debate the level of acceleration of where we want to arrive at in a regulatory framework for pesticide use in Canada.

Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Wilson. It's helpful to have your comments on the WWF report, and we'll certainly examine it very thoroughly.

We have a list of the members with questions: Mr. Herron, followed by Mr. Jordan, Mr. Reed, and Mr. Lincoln.

Mr. John Herron (Fundy—Royal, PC): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd like to thank the participants for their presentations. They were indeed very comprehensive from a number of different perspectives in terms of an agricultural framework, especially the latter presentations in particular, where they focused on the fact that the framework, in terms of what we're utilizing for the most part, is legislation that is essentially 30 years old. To me, that is the driver that, regardless of different perspectives on this debate, requires us to be able to look to see if we have an up-to-date law.

On the first question I have, quite often, in all the testimony we've heard, there were references made where new approvals of different substances to manage pests take a long time to be registered here in Canada. That new product could be more “environmentally friendly” with respect to the hazards to human health and the environment.

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Can you list any other specific substances in terms of that, that farmers are gnawing at the bit to get access to, that we've just been slow in approving? Are there any specific instances?

Mr. Ron Cameron: Mr. Chair, in the variety of production that our council represents, there are certainly very specific needs required. As I pointed out, those needs are not only at present because of the inability of our producers to access these materials because of the costs involved in order to make a presentation to the Canadian risk assessment system through the PMRA, but it is not profitable to bring those products to the Canadian market and therefore there is often an inability to access them that way.

Mr. John Herron: But there are a couple of particular products that we're—

Mr. Ron Cameron: I could probably give you a litany. I don't have them right at hand. For instance, new pests continually come on in the marketplace. In fact, this summer we ourselves saw insect damage in carrots. We don't normally use an insecticide on our processing carrots, but personally, this damage cost us considerably this summer.

We need some new insecticide to replace what used to be a product called carbofuran, or Furadan, in order to give us in-row protection against these pests. We can no longer use that product. We need a new product in order to try to reduce this damage, because the damage to the crop makes it inaccessible to the processor because they cannot grade that product out when it comes to their process. So that's a need I personally have. I think we could probably go to every production area of every crop and cite those types of needs.

Mr. John Herron: I come from a corporate background, and I always want to make sure those companies that actually survive are the ones that get access to the best technology on an ongoing basis, and I can see where a stringent regulatory regime could actually prohibit that circumstance. But there's a corollary here as well, because if we're using terms that we'd like to have access to more environmentally friendly products, the corollary to that means we have some products that we don't regard to be that environmentally friendly.

So the other question is, are there some substances we're utilizing right now that, as soon as we get our hands on this new emerging product, we'd love to be able to drop from being used for commercial use?

Mr. Jeff Wilson: I could give you an example.

I heard the word mentioned in the back, and I haven't even read the story, but I gather there's a story in the Ottawa Citizen today about Lindane, which is almost exclusively used in this day and age as a seed treatment, in very small amounts now. The farm community would give it up tomorrow if there were an alternative to protect the seed. But there's work going on. I think we have to acknowledge that this is not an exclusion, but we have to ensure that we protect our seeds just as well, and this is a very old product. It was very effective for what it did, but there's no question that there are concerns around the product out there, especially along the environmental side.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Jordan, please.

Mr. Joe Jordan (Leeds—Grenville, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chair. I have a couple of questions and maybe some comments.

Mr. Friesen, you said something in your presentation that got my attention, and I looked at it and realized you had ad libbed it. But I think in reference to the income crisis, you talked the farmers' bottom line improves, their ability to meet the objectives of the stewardship policies of the CPA also improves. I want to pick up on that.

I had a situation in my riding where a young couple took over their parents' farm. It was a dairy operation. Going across their property, they had a fairly important stream in terms of where it fed into the watershed. They got involved with a local high school to do a local stewardship council's reforestation project along the edge of the stream.

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Through all this, the farmer and his wife decided that they wanted to put a manure pit in, because that was one of the problems: they were piling this manure and the runoff was causing problems. They installed the manure pit and did the reforestation and some fencing to keep the cattle away from the stream. That worked out really well. They also found that the improvement in the groundwater—they were using a well—increased the production of the milk from the dairy herd.

But when they did all the number crunching, it still cost them money—and they put the manure pit in themselves because they had some clay, so they spent about $40,000 on the manure pit. The costs of extracting the manure every year were more than what they were spending on fertilizer.

So I think you make a very strong point there: economics sometimes drives these decisions. I know that in the province of Quebec there are programs that assist farmers in putting manure pits in. I don't know whether those programs are available in other places in Canada.

To me, when we got the calculator out, there was a perfect example of what you added in there. I think that absolutely reinforces what you've said. It's easy to point fingers, but when you start looking at the situation, we're asking people to do things that aren't in their economic interests when society is the beneficiary. That may be a discussion for another day, but I think it's a strong point.

Now, Mr. Hepworth, in your presentation here you're talking about the warehousing standards program and the ability to cut off a warehouse if they don't meet the guidelines. Do you have not specifics but numbers in terms of...? Has that been done? Have warehouses been closed down because they didn't follow your guidelines?

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: Yes. We have pulled the certificate on one warehouse in the last year. On an annual basis, we probably get something on the order of 15 to 20 allegations, reports, that warehouses might not be meeting standards. We have a pretty rapid response team, if you like, in terms of getting auditors out there to check if that's the case, but there's also some fairness built into it in terms of the timeline. They have a 24-hour period to get the correction they—

Mr. Joe Jordan: So what are the options they're presented with? Is it “this is what you're doing wrong, so correct it”?

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: Yes. There's not much leniency in terms of timing on that.

Mr. Joe Jordan: What are the implications when you pull a certificate, then?

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: They have to get themselves back onside and get re-audited and reinstated or they're not—

Mr. Joe Jordan: Or they can't store?

Mr. Lorne Hepworth. Yes.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Okay.

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: The issue is simply that manufacturers aren't comfortable putting pesticides into an environment, i.e., a warehouse, where they don't feel there's proper stewarding of that product going on.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Okay. Now, are there distributors of pesticides that don't belong to your organization? Do you have 100% of the distributors following this program?

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: Yes, I would say basically we do—on the agricultural side.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Okay. So if they belong to your institute, they follow the rules.

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: The people who own and operate the 1,800 warehouses might not all be members of the institute. Some would be. Some would be members of other associations, but they're cooperating with us. Of course, if they're going to be supplied by our manufacturers—and we represent virtually all of them—they have to comply with those standards.

Mr. Joe Jordan: So the stick is the fact that nobody will sell to them if they don't?

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: Yes.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Okay.

I have just one final point to pick up on, Mr. Wilson. You mentioned lindane as a chemical. With these older chemicals, if we do start expediting registrations...I read somewhere very recently that in western Ontario they have a program whereby farmers could dispose of all these old things. I don't know whether AGCare was involved in that, but I would think there's certainly a need for it. It's much like the consumers' chemical disposal programs we have for cities. Any help we could get—certainly in my region—for farmers who have stuff sitting around in the barn, which may be 30, 40 or 50 years old in some cases...programs that allow them to hand this stuff in or have it picked up would, I think, be helpful.

Mr. Jeff Wilson: Yes, I did mention that in 1992 we ran a program in Ontario to do just that. It was very well promoted and very well advertised out there. Even now, in 1999, we're hearing that there is a need to do that again. Now what we don't know, because we haven't done it takes a fair level of resources to run something like that, especially on either a provincial or national basis.

We're not sure when we hear the word “need” if there is still the really old product out there or if in fact it's product post-1992 that farmers have just moved on from or are no longer utilizing or what have you. We don't know, but we are hearing the need out there and we are exploring it.

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: Mr. Chairman, could I give feedback on that question?

The Chair: Very briefly.

• 0940

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: Further to the issue of a program to pick up unwanted waste pesticides, you referenced the one there. That's what I was talking about in my remarks in terms of what we've accomplished so far. We've set out to have a national program. So far we've covered Atlantic Canada, and Saskatchewan was started this fall. We're looking at B.C. Over the next two or three years we hope to do a program across the country, obviously in stages in some provinces. From our standpoint, it's being funded through that levy against manufacturers that I talked about.

The Chair: Mr. Reed, please.

Mr. Julian Reed (Halton, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

First of all, I would like to congratulate each of the presenters for very comprehensive and informative presentations.

I, like the chairman, congratulate Mr. Wilson on providing a response to this WWF brief that we had. I think that's essential, particularly to those of us who are laymen.

I can't let the moment go by when we have a scientist here with us this morning. I wonder, Ms. Dewar, if you could explain to us—hopefully in terms that we can comprehend—the process of biodegrading. What happens in that process? What's left over after something is biodegraded?

Ms. Denise Dewar (Manager, Scientific Affairs, Crop Protection Institute): In terms of talking about products that are more biodegradable—I assume that's what you're referring to—basically the products the past, products may have been more persistent, so they were in the environment longer. Chemistry today breaks down very rapidly in the soil through soil micro-organisms or through the air. The compound is decomposed and recycled back into the environment. That's more or less what we're talking about when we talk about degradation of compounds.

Mr. Julian Reed: Can you give us any indication of what percentage of chemicals or pesticides now is biodegradable? How many aren't? I know that 40 years ago none of them were.

Ms. Denise Dewar: I can't give you exact numbers, but certainly it is a requirement of the PMRA now. When an assessment is done on a new chemical, they do examine the biodegradation of compounds. Compounds that do persist in the environment are just not registered. All chemistry that is now registered is considered in that fashion.

Mr. Julian Reed: Is it fair to say that the timelines vary for the degrading to take place?

Ms. Denise Dewar: Yes, it depends on the chemistry. It depends on the compounds, but again, some of the new chemistry coming out that you would be familiar with, such as Roundup...those are very biodegradable compounds.

Mr. Julian Reed: It would seem that with that kind of movement in the pesticide industry in the usage, the risk management might well take place with the handler. Perhaps we could get some commentary about the kind of training that handlers of pesticides need to have now.

Ms. Denise Dewar: I think Mr. Wilson referred to the grower pesticide safety course in Ontario.

Mr. Julian Reed: Yes.

Ms. Denise Dewar: There are similar programs in every province on how to handle pesticides. Maybe I'll let Mr. Wilson speak to that.

Mr. Jeff Wilson: The program in Ontario, which has now been adopted in most of the eastern provinces as well, is a very intensive one-day course. We advise the farmers to get the information ahead of time so they can read up on it. It's a full day. It includes videos. It includes milestones during the day to ensure that the information is being gleaned as opposed to just being presented.

It's followed up at the end of the day by an examination. In Ontario now, every farm that purchases agriculturally labelled or designated pesticides has to have a certificate holder. As of January 1, 2000, every person on a spray rig has to be either a certificate holder or a certified agricultural assistant in the province of Ontario. We see that movement building in other provinces as well. That's not a top-down decree; that is at the instigation of the farm community itself.

• 0945

Mr. Julian Reed: Very wisely so too, because I think if the intensity of the risk lies with the handler, the more competent he or she is, the safer.

Mr. Jeff Wilson: If I could just add a footnote, I think in risk, we also talk about the...I think you're referring, Mr. Reed, to the risk to the applicator himself.

Mr. Julian Reed: Yes.

Mr. Jeff Wilson: But one of the intents of the course is to build awareness of the potential risk outside of the farm environment per se, to the local ecological systems and human health, by drift or whatever. That's probably as much at the core of the course curriculum as the actual risk to the people who are mixing, handling, and applying the products themselves.

Mr. Julian Reed: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Chair: Before recognizing Mr. Lincoln, I must apologize for not welcoming to the committee a farmer from downtown Toronto, Bill Graham, the MP for Rosedale. Welcome to the committee.

Mr. Bill Graham (Toronto Centre—Rosedale, Lib.): Mr. Chairman, since you raised that, I'd like to remind you there is the Riverdale Farm in my riding, and it's a very important part of downtown Rosedale. If you want to come and visit it, you can see our animals and take advantage of it.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

An hon. member: Do you do the chores?

Mr. Clifford Lincoln (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.): Mr. Chairman, I must say I appreciated when Mr. Friesen, Mr. Hepworth, and others spoke of improvements in how pesticides are handled and the concern for the environment. I think this has to be recognized and appreciated.

At the same time, I wanted to focus on the question of residues, which has been brought up several times in this forum. The November 1998 report by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency shows that domestic violations are increasing, although they still represent a small percentage—they've gone up from 0.4% in 1991 to 0.55% in 1994, and to 1.2% in 1998, compared to the imported residue violations, which have gone down from 2.4% to 1.94% now. The report says, interestingly, that this narrowing of the difference has been achieved in equal parts by an improvement in the import violation rate and a deterioration in the domestic violation rate.

As in previous reports, about half of the domestic violations, 41 out of 84, have resulted from a grower using a pesticide on a crop for which there was no Canadian registration. They give four examples: extensive and approved use of Permethrin in mushrooms; extensive misuse of endosulphan in fresh sweet peppers; misuse of the pesticide Cypermethrin on various crops; and Chlorpyrifos, which has relatively few approved uses in Canada but has produced numerous violations because of its misuse on crops for which it is not approved. They also mentioned that samples containing five pesticides were identified on nine occasions.

In the conclusion, they say the report indicates that the difference between domestic and imported contamination frequency and violation rates continue to lower. In part, this is likely because of the greater availability of pesticides for the domestic producer. Greater pesticide availability provides three opportunities for misuse: the application of more than recommended amounts; application too close to the harvest; and application of the pesticide to a crop for which it is not approved.

Unfortunately, violations from both these routes have risen in approximately equal proportions. Clearly, if pesticide violations are to be reduced, greater awareness is required on the part of the applicator.

Within your stewardship program and within the various measures you are taking...admittedly, we're talking about a minority, and I don't want to exaggerate that this is standard. Not at all. But the fact that it exists at all is very worrying, considering you have these violations and they continue to rise, contrary to the imported violations, the imported foodstuffs.

• 0950

Can you tell us how you deal with this?

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: Mr. Chairman, the observations I would make relative to that—and I agree with you, I think we all want to see those numbers as low as possible, and we should all take some comfort that they are as low as they are, notwithstanding the observations about perhaps some of the trends that are there developing. Quite simply, as it relates to use of products where there's no registration, we do not support that. It's illegal. There's no other way to put that.

In terms of how one addresses it, obviously, one, there's the awareness issue, and, two, I think that then speaks to the whole point of some of the earlier discussion about training and education kinds of programming to make sure that people are aware and do understand that. Having said all that, are there some producers who are driven to do certain things out of frustration? Maybe this is what that's saying as well in terms of availability of product. I'm not saying that makes it right, but—

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: Could you tell us whether—

The Chair: Briefly, please.

Mr. Ron Cameron: I think there certainly are some discrepancies, and these were some of the things we tried to point out in our presentation on the trading aspects, particularly in fruits and vegetables, which is where some of these violations have occurred. And I make no excuses for that. These things should not happen.

But there is a discrepancy between the way commodities come into Canada with products on them and the way we have to face products we're shipping into the United States. For instance, on commodities that are not grown in Canada but do require some pest management and therefore the use of product, those products may not be registered in Canada and yet those products on commodities can come into Canada under our 0.1 common default level. At the same time, if there is a product that we have available to us in Canada that is not registered in the United States, and if we ship that commodity into the United States with that product possibly on it, it has to meet what is called the zero level of detection. In other words, often a product can come into Canada under this common default level and go into our marketplace not in violation of any regulation at all, and yet the same product could not be used in Canada and shipped back into the United States.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: I understand that, Mr. Wilson, but I would remark that if I read this report properly, they were comparing the situation in 1991, 1994, and 1998. So conditions were compared on the same basis every time.

But what I wanted to ask as a final question is the following. As you know, the PMRA is working on new legislation now. Those of you who are on the PMAC will know that new legislation is on its way. Would you agree that when we talk about risk and what constitutes risk, what is acceptable and not acceptable, that risk should be determined according to exposure to the most vulnerable in society, that is, infants or unborn children, children in the womb; that we should have a way of deciding that the people who are the most vulnerable, the smallest and the most likely to be affected by contamination and pesticides, should be the standard for what is acceptable and not acceptable?

The Chair: Mr. Wilson or Mr. Hepworth.

Mr. Chuck Wilson: As a member who sits on PMAC, at our last meeting we had a fairly lengthy presentation on this. I can only respond as a farmer. I'm not a scientist, nor am I regulator. But they went to great lengths to defend that the questions you exactly raise are factored into the process now. That's what we were told at PMAC. I can't provide any further comment than that.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Hepworth.

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: I would echo the same thing. The current regulatory system does take into consideration the entire age spectrum, and I think there are even some tests, which I probably can't speak to from a technical standpoint, but obviously animal surrogates are used to look at it at the embryonic stages and all through the developmental growth stages of the mammalian species as a surrogate for assessing risk relative to humans and then building in safety factors for it. I have no reason to believe that they're not taking that into consideration now.

• 0955

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Friesen.

Mr. Bob Friesen: I have a quick response to both of the comments you made. As far as the latter one is concerned, they do have a risk-cup approach where they do a risk assessment based on an accumulation of exposure to different chemicals, and clearly our members do not want to put anybody at risk.

In terms of your first comment on violations, we believe that the sooner we have our system harmonized with that of the U.S. system on risk assessment, as well as tolerance levels, the sooner we are going to see a situation where, when we compete against producers in the U.S., we have a common regulatory system and one where we have access to chemicals, and through the competitive process our producers will not have to be reduced to initiating those violations. However, we do not support any violations whatsoever.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Lincoln.

Madame Kraft Sloan, five minutes.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan (York North, Lib.): Thank you.

On page 5 of the Crop Protection Institute's “Stewardship First”, your larger presentation, it says under (e), the third bullet:

    That initiatives to implement adverse effects reporting be conducted under a NAFTA “umbrella” and with U.S. EPA to develop a coordinated harmonized program for reporting and evaluation.

Is this just with regard to risk-management decisions? Or could you explain what you mean by this bullet, please?

Ms. Denise Dewar: In terms of adverse effects, it's referring to a situation where a product probably is already registered and some new information has come to light on that particular product. The U.S. currently has a system in place under FIFRA where you have to report an adverse effect to the U.S. EPA. Canada has the same system under CEPA, section 17. We're suggesting here that the reporting for adverse effects should be harmonized under the NAFTA approach.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Okay.

It's my understanding that data with regard to hazardous effects is not available in Canada to the general public. In terms of the whole issue around Lindane, I know the Inuit Circumpolar Conference has been trying to get information about Lindane and they have not been able to because they've been told it's proprietary. I'm wondering if you are looking at harmonization of reporting on hazardous effects of materials as new information has come to light and you decide this is something you want harmonized.

You have also spoken about harmonizing and being consistent with the Americans on the risk-management process as well as having a statement in your material about making the risk-management process decisions available to the public. It's also my understanding that this hazard effects data is available in the United States to the public. I'm wondering if you would like that harmonized with the Americans as well.

Ms. Denise Dewar: I wasn't aware that the data was available in the United States. Most of our member companies are international in nature, and as such, if the data is available in the United States it's the same data in Canada. If the data is available in the U.S. there is no reason why it wouldn't be available in Canada as well, except that our laws currently don't allow this, I suppose. But if we are looking at harmonization, I would think our company would support that.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: So under a new piece of legislation, a new Pest Control Products Act, you wouldn't have a problem with a clause in there saying that hazard effects information should be available to the public.

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I think the issue for us here—and I have to be careful with my response, because, at the same time, what we don't want to jeopardize is the intellectual property and the confidential business information that is behind the testing and the work that goes on for these submissions. Part of what we think is important for the public to see, and understand and know—as well as for the registrant committee—is all of the steps that are required in this risk-management process and that they be clearly enunciated for all to see so that the public can be assured that A, B, C, D, E, and F was covered off. It's not only the information that's important, but also knowing what is it by way of the steps that companies must go through and the information that's used to make those risk assessments.

• 1000

Other than that, as Denise has said, given the nature of our companies I don't think their definition of confidential business information would be different in the Canadian operation from how the U.S. body might look at it.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: But there is information that is available to the public in the United States that's not available to Canadians. So you wouldn't have any trouble with that being harmonized then?

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: I can't make a blanket yes or no to that, because I don't know enough of the detail of what's available in the U.S. that's not available here.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: But it seems that you want to harmonize on other aspects, so—

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: As a general rule.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: As a general rule—

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: Yes, as a general rule, it wouldn't be inconsistent with that thinking there.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: But I would hope we would maintain the general rule as it applies to the public interest as well.

For example, yesterday, we were told by the Urban Pest Management Council and the other witnesses who were there—it wasn't the witness from the Urban Pest Management Council, it was another one of our witnesses—that there was a 1-800 number on pesticide products and products registered under the PMRA, that users/consumers could phone to get information on hazardous effects if they had any questions about the substance at all and how to apply it.

One of my staffers purchased something by the name of No-Damp, which is a fungicide. It's registered under the PMRA, and there was no such information number on it and there was no information on the product. Then he purchased another product, BugGone, which is again registered under the PMRA and it's produced by Monsanto. This product did have a 1-800 number. He called at 8.30 p.m. and was told that he would have to wait for a return phone call from one of their consultants during office hours.

It seems that with the two instances of these particular products this information was not easily accessible. I'm wondering how users and consumers, the public, as well as the agricultural community, get information on the products that are within the umbrella group of the Crop Protection Institute.

The Chair: Can we have brief answers, please, Mr. Wilson?

Mr. Jeff Wilson: I can give a hands-on example personally. This past year we have a registration for an active ingredient call rimsulfuron on potatoes. It's a herbicide for pigweed control. We had quite an infestation. They had a 1-800 number. I got the response. I phoned it actually on a Saturday, and it said DuPont will get back to me during normal business hours. In fact, someone got back to me Saturday afternoon. Obviously it goes on.

As a farmer I would have found that if that call had come Monday morning, it would have been within the timeframe. There's a reasonable level of response on something like that and it goes two ways. That struck me as a reasonable approach, at least from a personal level, to answer the questions I had on an agricultural pesticide, and they did a very thorough job of answering them.

Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan: Thank you.

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: Mr. Chairman, just further to that, the first piece of important line of defence, if you like, or information for the consumer or the farmer is the label itself, first and foremost.

Secondly, there are differing requirements, as I understand it. Maybe I'll ask Denise to elucidate on that further in terms of what kinds of products are required to have 1-800 numbers. Let me ask Denise to clarify.

The Chair: Thank you, Madame Kraft Sloan. We will soon start a second round and we'll take questions from the other end of the table.

• 1005

Ms. Dewar, would you like to answer?

Ms. Denise Dewar: Commercial-class products, which are used in the agricultural setting, are required to have a 1-800 number on them. Domestic-class products I'm not sure of. I would think it would be in the best interest to have the 1-800 number on there, but again, we'd have to go back and look at the regulations. But I do know commercial-class, agricultural-use products are required to have a 1-800 number on them.

The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Dewar.

Going back for a moment to Roundup and the issue of biodegradability, Ms. Dewar, we are informed that in 1997 Monsanto responded to the New York State Attorney General and altered ads to delete claims that the herbicide is biodegradable and environmentally friendly and paid the state legal costs. So our latest information at least is that Roundup is not legally biodegradable. Would you like to comment on that information?

Ms. Denise Dewar: This is something in the States in terms of legal claims and what would have to be justified to be on an advertising claim. I have to admit this gets into an area of law I'm not familiar with. But as to whether these products are more biodegradable than products in the past, I would say yes. If PMRA is evaluating that data, the data clearly shows these products are more biodegradable than some older chemistries.

The Chair: Thank you.

Perhaps not today, but at your convenience, would you like to comment on the following observations?

Roundup has potentially mammalian toxicity and is not entirely environmentally friendly. European studies soon to be obtained indicate that the chemicals remaining after a half-life of Roundup may be highly carcinogenic.

Secondly, on a weight basis, the inert surfactant polyoxyethyleneamine, POEA, is known to be approximately three times as toxic as that of Roundup.

Thirdly, Rodeo for use in aquatic weed programs may cause genetic damage in tadpoles if they are exposed to legal levels for more than 24 hours.

And finally, some fungoid species important to the cycling of nutrients have increased after use of Roundup, while one, penicillum funiculosum, was completely eliminated.

I don't know whether this is asking too much, but perhaps you can, at your convenience, let us have your comments.

Ms. Denise Dewar: I would have to refer to the company specifically to speak to their data, but the PMRA evaluates all of this data and does the risk assessment on these products. It is taken into consideration in their scientific evaluation. But I will take your question back to the company and get the data for you.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Friesen, I was wondering whether you could supply this committee the data you applied in calculating that Canadian farmers compare favourably to both our European and American counterparts in the amount of pesticides used per square kilometre of crop land. Could you do that, at your convenience?

Mr. Bob Friesen: Sure.

The Chair: Thank you. Also, Mr. Friesen, perhaps you could tell us, in the light of your comments, how many registrations were cancelled through the re-evaluation last year.

Mr. Bob Friesen: I don't have any knowledge of that.

The Chair: Well, you said that growers lose the use of all their products through the re-evaluation process, so it is an observation you made. It must be based on some information.

Mr. Bob Friesen: I'm sorry; I don't have the number with me.

The Chair: Would you know whether new products were registered to replace the old ones?

Mr. Bob Friesen: We do have some new registrations that are very close to approval, and again, those numbers could be provided to you from the data the PMRA gave us at the last EMAC meeting.

The Chair: Finally, Mr. Wilson, could you tell us whether you are satisfied with the approval process of new biotechnology products?

• 1010

Mr. Jeff Wilson: Again, we're talking about a regulatory framework. As a user, I'm satisfied that the system works. I think it's fair. I'm somewhat disappointed that the custodians of the regulatory frameworks in this context regarding biotechnology, which for all intents and purposes are the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Health Canada.... I'd like to see a little more support in them defending the regulatory process. I don't think that at all means they have to defend the technology, but we have to build.

I have faith as a consumer in a good, solid, transparent regulatory framework. I think that's what we're all after. But there has to be a champion for those regulatory frameworks. It cannot be me. I have a vested interest as a farmer and a user.

The Chair: I'm asking that question, Mr. Wilson, because a couple of weeks ago, you kindly sent me—well not you, but your president, Jim Fischer—a copy of a letter to Ray Mowling, president of Monsanto. In that letter, Jim Fischer urges an approach that would be a marketing environment free from legalistic paperwork. I was wondering whether you could—

Mr. Jeff Wilson: Yes, I can make a comment on that. The issue surrounding that letter and that press release is that we see the need to get the core technology out into the public domain. That could be universities or small companies that would take a minor-use approach to a major-use biotechnology initiative.

And we're not saying do that for free. We're saying if a product is arrived at through that research, then let's establish an appropriate level of compensation for that product. We just feel there's a potential out there to get better technology than what we currently have.

In the context of using chemical pesticides out there, I can't access a Bt, a bacillus thuringiensis, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, or sweet corn right now, because the technology, to my understanding, is on the horizon, but it's not there yet. One of the barriers to getting that technology is that the potential for compensation by the big companies isn't there. So let's release that technology to small companies, under licence or under some form of formal agreement, to get the technology out there for the betterment of all of us.

That's what that letter is surrounding. In that context, we sent a letter to a number of the companies. Monsanto owns a fair amount of the core technology, and Ray Mowling is their VP in charge of that whole area, so the letter was addressed to him.

The Chair: In that same letter there's a very interesting paragraph in which the following commitment is requested. I'm reading from the second paragraph:

    ...assurance that farmers are not obliged to sign waivers or legalistic documents when purchasing genetically enhanced seeds. As a maximum, farmers should be asked to sign simple statements that they will not allow harvested seeds to be used to plant a subsequent crop.

Could you perhaps give us a picture of that?

Mr. Jeff Wilson: If you sign a document right now, you actually sign the authority for them to come onto your property, which deals with potential trespass issues, for at least the subsequent year if not the two subsequent years, in order to verify that you're not planting or utilizing any of that technology.

Again, we're not saying farmers have every right, free, to use the technology. What we're saying in essence is, don't cloud the issue with all kinds of legalese so that a farmer looks at it and says, “The technology is appealing. I see some benefits, given a number of facets, including environmental, human health, and economic. But if I sign this document, what am I really signing? Do I need to have my lawyer review the document, because obviously that document was written by a lawyer on the other side?” We're saying, let's simplify the process.

The intent of the whole process is to ensure that people don't use the technology without paying a reasonable level of compensation for that right. That's really the goal. But let's simplify it, instead of complicating it so that down the road you would be negotiating at this time of the year for technology you'd be using next year. It doesn't seem to make sense, from our perspective.

The Chair: There is a case before the courts right now, initiated by a farmer in Saskatchewan.

Mr. Jeff Wilson: We're aware peripherally of that case. It's in the courts. Nobody is really talking about it, including to us. I guess we'll just have to see where that pans out through that process.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Wilson.

The second round will be Mr. Herron, Mr. Jordan, Mr. Reed, Mr. Lincoln, and Madame Kraft Sloan.

Mr. Herron.

• 1015

Mr. John Herron: I was indeed struck by the positive comment that the consumption of pesticides in agrarian use has gone down 40.7% despite the fact that we are working with legislation that is essentially 30 years old in that regard.

Some of the other concerns—and I'm making this comment without having enough statistical information—may come from the fact that the use in urban environments has not had the same type of decrease. I think the agricultural communities should be congratulated in that aspect.

I was also struck by the fact that we now measure the consumption of pesticides in terms of grams versus kilograms. That's an indication that reductions have been made. The testimony we have heard is that we use as little as necessary. Would we have said that ten years ago?

Mr. Jeff Wilson: I think there's always an economic side for the user. We get chastised for viewing the economics, but that's a reality. I farm to make a living.

Mr. John Herron: No, economics is good.

Mr. Jeff Wilson: Having said that, I think we have to be clear. We use a variety of pest management methodologies and technologies out there, including chemicals. Some other things, depending on where you're located, work very effectively. They all come with a cost, one way or another.

So any farmer in this day and age who feels they can ignore the implications of any input, whether it be a technology, a process, or a product in the farm business is, I think, kidding themselves. We tend to see that the focus out there appears to be on the inputs to agriculture. We know how far the farm community was getting just dealing with the pricing on the outputs of our endeavours.

Mr. John Herron: Yes, Mr. Friesen.

Mr. Bob Friesen: I would respond by saying that I think the cost of inputs is a very big factor. Farmers have become much better stewards. They're much more health conscious than they ever were before. They also have much sharper pencils. If it is absolutely possible to do without a pesticide, they will do without it.

Mr. John Herron: That's a good segue into where I'm going. I don't think farmers are much better stewards; I think farmers have been stewards of the land, and long before it was trendy.

With regard to the health aspect, in committee yesterday I illustrated that I came from the steel industry. If I sold you a piece of stainless steel that has nickel in it, and it was sitting there on the table, I would have to supply a material safety data sheet under the WHMIS program, because you might weld it. Its form right there is not toxic, but when it's welded, the fumes.... So I would have to supply a material safety data sheet.

Given that farmers are now more health conscious and they live on the land, quite often, in terms of where they farm and where they apply their pesticides.... The testimony from Madam Kraft Sloan touched on access to information. If I have to supply a material safety data sheet under the WHMIS program for something that isn't even toxic in its form but because I might weld it, well, pesticides are chemicals we've designed to kill in a controlled way to reduce pests. Why wouldn't we want to be able to ensure that we have material safety data sheets produced for all pesticides? Because currently they're exempt.

Now, some producers do produce it, not only for the active ingredients but also for the entire formulants. In that same vein, 30 years ago we didn't have VCRs, 800 numbers, or the Internet. In terms of minimal access to information, why would we not want to have material safety data sheets for all pesticides accessible on the Internet at all times?

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: I'll start, Mr. Chairman, if you don't mind, and I'll ask Ms. Dewar to pick up a couple of comments as well.

I think you're going the same place we are. First, as part of our warehousing standards, which I referenced earlier, it is a requirement—i.e., you cannot get your certificate if you do not do this—to have an MSDS for all the products at a certain location. It's not necessarily right in the warehouse, because in the event there's a fire, the MSDS might go up, and you want to be able to look at it from an outside location, but close by. So each MSDS must be available.

• 1020

Secondly, in the new year there should be a program where we do make these available in electronic and disk format. We have some commitments from the manufacturers for an updating process, which I think speaks to the electronic provision of this type of data.

Over and above that, I think there are certain regulatory requirements in law about the MSDS, which perhaps Denise can pick up for us.

Ms. Denise Dewar: Our member companies are required to submit MSDSs with their submissions to the PMRA. If you do not provide your MSDSs with your submission package, it is rejected. Along with that, the MSDSs for the formulants are also required with submission of the products.

Mr. Jeff Wilson: I can add that from the user perspective, all of the grower pesticide training courses recommend both thorough reading of the label and access. The MSDS is available at a dealer's if one does exist, and we encourage the grower to pick it up when they're picking up the product. In many cases, there is good practical information on the MSDS that may or may not be on the label itself.

Mr. John Herron: Finally, on the issue of harmonization, ours is a North American economy. We rely on about $260 billion in trade with the Americans each year. We need to make sure our economies are as integrated as possible.

Philosophically, cooperation in terms of regulatory frameworks is in general a step in the right direction. Our dilemma is that let's say we had documentation required for MSDSs. For pesticides, it's not required under our law. This is largely done on a voluntary basis. What if the Americans only had a law for the active ingredients for that type of document, and we believe, in a democratic Canadian context, we want it for all the formulants and active ingredients? When we want to do this in Canada and perhaps in the States they want to do it only for the active ingredients, how do you square that?

Mr. Jeff Wilson: For what it's worth, when the federal pesticide regulatory review went on, I sat on the WHMIS subcommittee. Ron Cameron actually sat in on the main process itself.

It boiled down, to a degree, to a non-issue other than that there was a demand for confidential business information by the labour representatives that the companies, based on what their needs were, felt they couldn't release. To a degree, then, it hit a wall, but the concern wasn't necessarily the formulants. There was a direct request for access to the confidential part of the formula.

We sat on the sidelines, in essence, while that debate continued on, and they never did arrive at a resolution.

At the end of the day, I'm not sure what it is you're suggesting we're after.

Mr. John Herron: I'm scared for the health of the farmers. I think farmers should have complete access to know what they're utilizing.

Mr. Jeff Wilson: As I say, through our organization and at the national level we encourage farmers as well as anyone else to get as much information as possible when they make a decision. We would include the information regarding the impact as opposed to simply, “This product is useful on this crop”, the agronomic side.

We feel farmers need to know that information because of the implications for them. In the majority of cases, it's the farmers themselves on that sprayer.

Mr. John Herron: Thank you.

The Chair: Mr. Jordan, please.

Mr. Joe Jordan: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Just to pick up on Mr. Herron's question, I guess in an MSDS, there may not be a need to divulge proprietary information on a formula. Really, you're trying to tell people what happens if you get this on your skin, or what happens if you breathe it in. So a lot of that safety stuff in which these products could be categorized doesn't necessarily infringe, rightly or wrongly, on their need to have proprietary ownership of detailed formulas.

I want to go back to a specific and potentially hypothetical situation in terms of what the PMRA does and its impact on the ground. If we look at the re-registration of pesticides—the chair touched on this, and I realize one of the problems is they haven't been doing many, but there are some 400 in the queue so there's a good chance they will be doing them if they get their act together. So they're re-registering or re-evaluating old products against a higher standard. And they may find one disallowed; they may say, knowing what we know, because our science is better, we're not going to allow this.

• 1025

For the sake of this example, let's just say it's something that goes on a tomato—and I'm out of my league here; I'm just going to leave it at that. It goes on a tomato, we used to be able to put it on our tomatoes, and we don't now because everybody agrees that the benefits are overshadowed by the risks.

Then the companies—and as you say, many of them are multinational—develop a replacement product. Or maybe they've already got one but it's not available in Canada because the registration process in Canada takes two years, three years in some cases. Or it may be it's too expensive to register it in Canada, given the small domestic market we have in Canada and given the fact that essentially we compete with the United States, so there may by some trade implications to that.

So what you end up with is a Canadian producer who can't use this product because everyone agrees it's harmful, but can't get any kind of replacement product. Meanwhile, the Loblaws shelves are full of this tomato that the Americans use this product on. We import it from the States and you can't export your tomatoes to the States because you used that product. That's the dilemma. On the surface that looks ridiculous, and it may very well be ridiculous.

Barbara McElgunn was here, and she has experience working with the EPA and with the PMRA. So I asked her when she was here which system was better, the EPA or ours. What she said, understandably, was, well, they do some things better than us and we do some things better than them.

So to pick up on what Mr. Herron was saying, it would seem what we have to look at is some sort of harmonization. Otherwise, you can see how the story ends.

Now, are there products available for use in the States that would never be approved in Canada if they ever got around to doing it? Or is it the bottleneck that we're not looking at these in a timely way, or are there real differences in where the pole is set between Canada and the United States? Because the danger—and I'll just finish up and let you address this—as Mr. Herron alluded to, is that we are never going to convince the Americans to raise the pole. I don't think so from my experience.

So if we talk harmonization, are we really looking at a dropping of our standards?

Mr. Ron Cameron: If I might respond, the dilemma as you outlined it is very true. Basically, the dilemma comes because of registrations that occurred in the United States prior to their even being presented for a risk evaluation in Canada. Often it comes on a crop we don't grow; it may be provided in the United States as a registration on citrus crops or cotton or some crop we're not really involved with in Canada. Therefore if we want to convert that use or suggest that use to a company, that they might want to bring it in for use on radishes, there's very little incentive to bring it in for the limited use there would be for radishes. That's an extreme example.

Because of the timing of when it was registered in the United States to what the requirements are in Canada now and also in the United States for a registration, to fill that data gap is too expensive to provide the data and therefore have the evaluation. Therefore some of these products are not available. But our main impetus now in trying to get a harmonized system—and harmonization does not imply exact duplication; we still reserve rights to do some of the things Mr. Herron here has suggested, and they should be available. And we do not question in any way as a user the sovereignty of decision-making in Canada.

However, if a company is making a presentation for a product in the United States and has all that data available, we are now in a position very closely that the same package of data would lead to a registration decision in Canada. If those presentations are made simultaneously by the company in both Canada and the United States, it falls into the United States in what is often called their safer track path to registration. If that new or safer track can be applied in the United States, PMRA have committed that they would jointly review that joint submission simultaneously, which would lead to a decision within one year.

• 1030

Mr. Joe Jordan: So as you say, Canadians can still make the decision. If the presentation of data for the decision is done in a way that harmonizes processes, even at the end of the line Canada may still say no where the States say yes, and also the reduced cost reflected in that process passed on to the potential registrants—would that be a big step forward? It's not automatic, but at least it's not two separate tracks.

Ms. Denise Dewar: I think our regulatory agencies have moved a long way toward harmonization. However, there are still differing data requirements between the two countries. Canada actually requires more data in a lot of ways, efficacy being one. When we're talking about discrepancy of products, a lot of the deterrent is also based on environmental types of studies that are required in Canada. Canada is very strict in their environmental data requirements. Actually our experience in dealing with international harmonization has been that the bar is pushed higher, not lower, in terms of requirements.

So we would say additional data is required in Canada, and that is often a deterrent to companies coming forward to bring those registrations through.

Mr. Jeff Wilson: I think the final comment that's worth bringing to bear on the issue is what Ron Cameron mentioned earlier on the Food Quality Protection Act and the impact. What wasn't mentioned is the effort being made in terms of resource allocation to come up with solutions for products that have red flags around them. They have devoted a significant level of resource and multimillions of dollars now to address that very issue, which one could always question as to where that positions us in Canada, given that the argument is somewhat the same, given similarity in topography, similarity in climate, similarity in cropping mix, other than crops outlined by Ron.

Mr. Bob Friesen: Just very quickly to recall one of the points you made, the dilemma still remains that we have tolerance levels for active ingredients that aren't allowed in Canada, and yet we allow the importation of those products. If we don't want to harmonize down to the lowest common denominator, and we're assured of a scientific risk assessment and we don't want it in Canada, then maybe it becomes an MISB.... That's why we've encouraged that there be much better cross-walks between the different government agencies—CFIA, PMRA, and MISB—so there is harmonization even within our own jurisdictions in such a way that our producers aren't marginalized and rendered uncompetitive.

The Chair: All right, Mr. Jordan?

Mr. Joe Jordan: Yes.

The Chair: Thank you.

Mr. Reed.

Mr. Julian Reed: Some witnesses who have appeared before this committee have suggested that the alternative “organic farming” as we understand it would present a solution to this perceived dilemma of pesticide use. Would anybody like to comment on the organic option and its applications? I think there's a perception that somehow no chemicals are used in organic farming at all and it's a matter of good management that produces high-quality products, etc. Would anybody like to get into this?

Mr. Jeff Wilson: I think I would like to articulate a mutual challenge we all found this past summer. I grow sweet corn. That's one of the crops I produce on my farm. I have some friends who are organic farmers and grow sweet corn as well. The one thing we all agree on is the consumer will not buy corn with a worm in it. I think if we all agree on that, maybe we can move ahead from that point.

Mr. Julian Reed: Half a worm is worse.

Mr. Jeff Wilson: That's even worse. What we found this past summer was what some would argue was an anomaly in weather patterns. We were seeing 25-degree, 28-degree temperatures at 8.30 p.m., and 25-degree plus temperatures by 7 a.m. during the period of incubation for corn earworm and European corn borer.

• 1035

We found in our own operation that, I think it's probably fair to say, most farmers look at the softest product as a starting point. In this case, it is Bt, bacillus thuringiensis. With those temperatures, it wasn't working, and that's the mainstay of the organic sector. Their main product just flat out did not work this past year. In our case, we would then move to what we would call a pyrethroid level and start looking. It was the same challenge there. They don't work above 22 degrees, and the Bt really doesn't work very well above 18 degrees centigrade.

We ended up, in our operation, having to go in with liquid carbofuran, which quite honestly scares the hell out of me. It's a registered product. It's a legal product. I don't like using the technology. Why? It has a very acute level of toxicity to me and it has a very acute level of toxicity to the environment, the insect environment around my cornfields.

What should the solution have been, in my estimation? Bt sweet corn, genetically enhanced.

Given the anomaly of the weather patterns this year, I think there would have been quite a benefit in terms of mitigating the use of a harder pesticide with something that I think we all have to agree is softer. We may not like the use of pesticides to begin with, but given that as a baseline, let's use the products of least impact where they can be used.

We cannot predict weather patterns like we had this past summer. I'm hearing this across a number of the crops: pest management was a real challenge because of the hot temperature. So I say, well, was that unique here? It's unique in Canada, but we've been talking with sweet corn growers in Florida and that's the norm down there: 30 applications of an organophosphate pesticide is somewhat the norm down there because of those hot temperatures. So in a sense, I don't think we want to dismiss any technology out there. I've been having some great debate with my organic friends about this: if we have another year like that, what can any of us do?

Does anybody else want to jump in here?

Mr. Ron Cameron: Yes. I think all farmers in Canada are as organic as their possibilities of producing a profitable crop will allow them to be. I think that, first of all, we'll use methods like sanitation, crop rotation, zero tillage—various means in order to eliminate as much as possible the use of pesticides. But in order to meet the global competition that we have to meet, in order to provide products at a price that the consumer will buy and at a grade that is presentable and acceptable to that same consumer, I think we have to meet the emergencies that Jeff just described.

We must have the arsenal. There is no way we can avoid it, but I don't think there is any farmer who would not do his best to eliminate, as much as possible, any pesticide use, and to use other very competitive means, if they are available, in order to do that.

So to describe an organic farmer...he has maybe gone one step further than I have in a particular case, but he is seeking that compensation through value added when he puts that particular product on the marketplace. There is a segment of society that is willing to pay that price, but it is not available to all consumers at a price they can afford.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Graham.

Mr. Lincoln, please.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: I'd like to come back to the new legislation being prepared now, because there has been a feeling that a lot of our discussion regarding risk and what is acceptable and what is not acceptable has centred on the fact that there is no clear definition of what risk is.

I take it from your previous remarks that according to your information they already factor in the risk of the weakest individuals in society—infants—so that you would have no objection to the definition making a fact of this...? In other words, it would be leaving no arguments that it is being assessed or not being assessed on this basis. We would have in the definition of risk that it would be geared to the most vulnerable in the population.

• 1040

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: In terms of the new legislation that is expected to come forward as it relates to the risk and risk-management framework, the position we've taken is that it's one of the areas in which we think there needs to be some increased clarity so that we do all understand precisely what we are talking about definitionally and what the PMRA means by their risk-management framework. I would expect this very clear, precise, step-by-step delineation. That's what I would say relative to that specifically.

The Chair: Mr. Wilson.

Mr. Jeff Wilson: In return, I would ask a question of clarification: is the issue that the premise of risk be in the actual legislation and not dealt with through regulation, in other words, that it be in the core? Is that what the issue is? I'm not sure what the issue is about risk.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: No. The issue is whether it would be in regulation or...I would certainly prefer it in the act itself because the act provides for a lot of definitions and certainly it would be much clearer. Regulations would come much later, afterwards.

But whether it is regulated or in the act, here's what the premise is: are we going to make sure that acceptable risk is defined according to, based on, the most vulnerable in society? In other words, not a male, 165 or 200 pounds in weight and six feet tall, but an infant, so that really we would be much more cautious...we should use the precautionary principle of the weakest in society.

Mr. Jeff Wilson: Just to continue, then, in response, I don't know whether the Pest Management Regulatory Agency has testified before this committee or not. They made a very strong, compelling argument to the council at our last meeting on how they go about analysing, determining, and respecting the issue of risk for all, including those who would be somewhat disadvantaged.

As someone who is not a scientist, I quite honestly found that it was a compelling argument. They satisfied my curiosity—for what it's worth sitting here as a witness—that it is being incorporated into it. Are we looking for more than that? I think the council itself was looking for some direction there as well.

The Chair: Mr. Wilson, what is “it” when you're referring to “it” being incorporated?

Mr. Jeff Wilson: The people at PMRA who are in charge of this area, the definition, the looking at the issue of risk, spent probably two hours, line by line, point by point, articulating to us how they go about doing their job. It seemed to hit all the points Mr. Lincoln is raising: the elderly, the young, and including some species out there that may be identified in the process. I don't think I could add any more to that, other than to say if that's not satisfying this committee then I think to a degree you maybe need to sit down with the council itself or with the PMRA folks and have them articulate just how they go about looking at risk.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: Mr. Wilson, I think there's a complete misunderstanding as to my question. I'm not questioning the PMRA. I'm not questioning the council. I am questioning you, because you're the witness.

Mr. Jeff Wilson: Yes.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: What I am saying is, if you have been satisfied as to the explanations of the PMRA, do you have any objections to this being part of the definition of the new act? That was my question. It wasn't a question as to whether we agree or disagree with what the PMRA said. I am saying that if you are satisfied yourselves that the PMRA said risk assessment is geared to the most vulnerable in society, then you would have no objection, I take it, to this being part of the definition within the act.

Mr. Jeff Wilson: Surrounding the issue of risk, I would agree with you, but I also think, if you're going back to the discussion at the council—I represent horticulture at the council—our concerns centred around the lack of recognition in the proposed legislation for minor use, and other people brought issues to that process as well.

• 1045

So there tends to be good agreement on proposed legislation we have been presented with that has everything you're talking about in it. Our only concern is the fact of the elements that aren't in there still.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: The act—and it's certainly the case in U.S. legislation—takes in the aggregate use of pesticides, the cumulative use of pesticides, and re-evaluation. The U.S. has had legislative requirements for re-evaluation for 12 years now, since 1988. Do I take it that you would agree to the legislation, including a re-evaluation requirement and aggregate and cumulative risks? Finally, would you have any objection to a precautionary principle being enshrined in the legislation?

Mr. Charles D. Milne (Vice-President, Government Affairs, Crop Protection Institute): I guess I would respond to that by saying we support re-evaluation. We also acknowledge that in the United States, they have a far greater number of products available.

I think the point was made earlier today on the need for transition strategies and alternatives. The concern in Canada is that as re-evaluation rolls out, we are lacking the transition strategy in the availability of products to substitute for those that could potentially be lost.

We support the concept of re-evaluation. I would add that we have to keep it in the context of the overall business of registration. As new, more advanced technologies are registered, there will be a natural substitution of those that are in line for re-evaluation, so there's a relationship between the two. We want to either keep up with yesterday or look at tomorrow. I would submit that looking at tomorrow can't be lost in the interest of keeping up with yesterday.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: I'm a little confused because some of the previous witnesses said we wanted to harmonize with the United States. The United States, in its law, has a legal requirement for re-evaluation that has been there since 1988. Whether it's a large number of products or a smaller number of products, we're talking about principles.

U.S. legislation now is bringing in aggregate exposure—the exposure of many risks cumulatively. In the new legislation, should we follow that same pattern to have a requirement for re-evaluation to include aggregate exposure and cumulative exposure?

Mr. Bob Friesen: I support what Charles just said on re-evaluation. It's our understanding that the PMRA currently uses an accumulative, demographic process in risk assessment. Whether it's appropriate for it to be in the legislation or not is probably a subject for another day. But that is what PMRA, to our understanding, is currently doing.

I don't know whether we have time to discuss the concept of a precautionary principle. Our position wherever we go, regardless of whether we're talking about biotechnology or the SPS agreement at the WTO, is that it has to be science-based. Your precautionary principle, we believe, creates the potential for making subjective and political decisions; therefore as long as that's part of the definition of precautionary principle, we would not support it. We support science-based assessments.

Mr. Clifford Lincoln: Shall we wait until science finds out that DDT is harmful, after all the damage has been caused? For instance, if you look at the commissioner's report on carbofuran, according to a PMRA side effects report, when we found out that carbofuran was bad for us, after the event, there had been between 109,000 and 958,000 birds in Canada killed by carbofuran each year.

• 1050

So we wait for the scientific evidence to show that the damage has been caused.

Canada adopted the precautionary principle in Rio in 1992. We don't wait for the evidence to show that the damage has been caused; if we feel there could be potential for damage, we just don't do it.

The Chair: Mr. Cameron.

Mr. Ron Cameron: I'd just like to respond to the question, Mr. Lincoln. Certainly in the U.S. they're looking at aggregate and cumulative effects and a ten-fold factor for infants and children. We think that's very commendable.

At the same time, in deciding how big the risk-cup is, they are shifting from what is called a theoretical risk assessment to a more probabilistic assessment, whereby known factors about a particular material are taken into consideration. They're using much more exact evaluation to determine what that real risk is, rather than a theoretical use pattern. So I think we would be comfortable seeing harmonization with that type of process.

The Chair: Madam Kraft Sloan.

Ms. Karen Kraft Sloan: Thank you. I'm just wondering if one of the Crop Protection Institute's activities is education. I'm wondering if you do any education or research on multiple use or cumulative effects of different kinds of pesticides. Do you have any material you give out to users and consumers on this?

Ms. Denise Dewar: With respect to cumulative effects, this is an area of science that is only just beginning to evolve. It's an area that requires a lot more research. Our industry is actively helping and working in that and supporting research on the cumulative effects.

Ms. Karen Kraft Sloan: Can you provide some documentation to the committee on what you're doing in this area?

Ms. Denise Dewar: Yes. It is actually outlined in our brief. Dr. Kelly Munkittrick's study that is being done on endocrine disrupting substances in the Saint John River is included in the brief. But we will provide you with more information.

Ms. Karen Kraft Sloan: I am just curious to know why between eight and 11 pesticides would be used on apples or pears. I don't understand why you have to use so many different pesticides.

Mr. Jeff Wilson: In a nutshell, you have to go back and analyse the pest problems in pears. We've seen specific products being developed for very specific insects, so while you may see the farmer has an option to use 11 different pesticides, in reality they will determine whether they have leaf miner or scale and deal with those individually. They're not using all 11 pesticides in any given year. In fact, it has resulted in an overall reduction in pesticide use.

Tying that in with the ecological side of integrated pest management, they're now starting to quantify which are the softest products and rate them for any given specific pest pressure.

Ms. Karen Kraft Sloan: Thank you.

The Chair: I have one final question for Mr. Hepworth and then we will adjourn.

Mr. Hepworth, I'm informed that the Crop Protection Institute has a web page.

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: Yes.

The Chair: The claim is made on the web site that pesticides do not contribute to ground water or surface water contamination in Canada or the U.S.A. It goes on to say that this finding—namely that surface water contamination is not the result of pesticide use—was made by an EPA study and allegedly has been confirmed by the Canadian government. It goes on to say that according to the EPA study, 99% of analyses meet government standards. We have heard from several departments involved with the question of pesticides, but none of them seems to have heard of this particular EPA study referred to in your web page. Can you give us some clarification on all this, please?

• 1055

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: I'll have to go back and get information relative to the precise study that's referenced there. Relative to implications for pesticides in ground water or surface water, I know there is a report out of Lethbridge—maybe Denise can give us some detail here—where we are working with officials, I think it's through PMRA, who have undertaken that study to sort of have a better understanding ourselves. I'll have to get more detail for you on the specific study you cite.

The Chair: Would you undertake to examine your web page and inform this committee what you plan to do in order to make it accurate?

Mr. Lorne Hepworth: Yes.

The Chair: Are there any further questions? If not, we thank you very much for your participation this morning. It was very helpful and we hope to see you again.

This meeting is adjourned.