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ENVI Committee News Release

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STANDING COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT
AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT



NEWS RELEASE




For Immediate Release

The House of Commons Environment Committee calls on Canadians to Reduce Pesticide Use to Protect Human Health and the Environment.

OTTAWA – May 16, 2000 – Today, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development released its report on pesticides, following a study initiated a year ago. In the course of public hearings, the Committee heard compelling testimony that pesticides pose a threat to human health and the environment. Given this evidence, the Committee conveys several key messages to Canadians and the government.

  • We urge the federal government to modernize the pesticides regulatory and management system by amending the 30 year old pesticides law to protect the most vulnerable groups in society, notably, fetuses, children, women and northern populations. The government must utilize the latest scientific knowledge and when there is mounting scientific evidence of the adverse effects of certain pesticides, we urge it apply the precautionary principle.

  • We urge the government to re-evaluate all pesticides that were approved before 1995 with today’s more stringent standards and with the objective of protecting our vulnerable populations, and to de-register pesticides for which a safer alternative is now available.

  • We recommend increasing the safety factor in determining the tolerance of pesticides in foodstuffs which would act as a buffer against current uncertainty surrounding the exposure and sensitivity of children and other susceptible populations to pesticides.

  • We urge the government to give absolute precedence to the protection of human health in all pesticide management decisions. Currently, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency attempts to be the servant of two masters; namely meeting the needs of growers and pesticide manufacturers, while protecting human health. Because of the serious health implications of pesticides, we say this dual mandate is of serious concern and must be changed to give clear priority to the protection of human health and the environment.

  • We advocate improved access to information so as to enable Canadians to make the right decisions about pesticide use. We need to fund substantially more research on the impact of pesticides on our health and our environment. We need to know where and how much pesticides are used and sold in Canada. We need to know the ingredients that make up pesticides and what alternatives are available to us. Health care professionals need means to report and share information on the adverse effects of pesticides.

  • We urge consumers to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating in order to remove pesticide residues. As many as 16 separate pesticide applications may be made on apples each year to combat the apple scab. Where possible, organic products should be chosen. Consumers should also be made aware that a grade A product is not an indication of a food’s nutritional value. It is primarily a cosmetic criterion that rates the visual aspect of a food.

  • To home owners and residents of urban and rural areas we say dandelions are harmless and beautiful. They do not pose a threat to health; herbicides do, particularly to children. Therefore it is desirable to accept dandelions as a natural presence in the Canadian landscape. Money can be better spent on alternative methods and products available for the ecological maintenance of your lawn and garden.

  • To parks and recreation officials in cities and municipalities we say stop spraying parks, forests and especially children’s playgrounds. Increasingly individuals and communities are voicing their opposition to being involuntarily exposed to pesticide spraying, be it on lawns, parks or golf courses. Several municipalities have chosen to maintain their parks, playgrounds and other public spaces using ecological methods. Other municipalities must be convinced to follow their example.

  • To farmers we say there is a booming domestic and export market for organic foods. The advantages of organic farming are many; reduced soil erosion, retention of soil nutrients, surface and ground water that is uncontaminated by pesticides. We urge the government to enable farmers to take advantage of this economic opportunity by providing them with the necessary information, technical assistance and financial incentives. The government could also enable further research into organic farming by designating organic farming chairs under the 21st Century Chairs for Research and Excellence Program.

  • We urge all those who must resort to using pesticides to follow the instructions on the labels carefully, especially in agriculture where the misuse of pesticides can result in pesticide residues on food at levels which can be harmful to consumers. We recommend a better protection for workers using pesticides and also for those living downwind to pesticides spraying operations.

The report is entitled: Pesticides, Making the right choice, For the protection of human health and the environment. This title is deliberately selected by the Committee to underscore the need to have comprehensive information on pesticides, including alternatives, so that Canadians can make informed choices about pesticide use, for the protection of human health and the environment. The report is available on the Parliament of Canada web site: www.parl.gc.ca. Copies may also be obtained by contacting the Clerk of the Committee, at (613) 996-1483 or envi@parl.gc.ca .

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