From the Ground Up - Blog


Cosmetic Pesticides Illegal in MB: What Next?

There is a good article in the Western Producer May 1st on page 87 titled “Manitoba pesticide ban misguided: toxicologist. Manitoba government announcement to ban cosmetic pesticides.” The article talks about James Bus, a U.S. toxicologist who has studied pesticides for 35 years. He says the Manitoba ban demonstrates an absence of expertise. Manitoba farm groups have called the ban very unscientific.

Bus says “there is no regulatory agency in the world that regards 2,4-D as a human carcinogen or as a threat to children’s health. He goes on to say mice and rats were fed 2,4-D for 2 years at daily doses that were 1000 time more than you would get if you walked around on the grass bare foot right after spraying. The mice and rats had no harmful effects. The ban was announced by the government with comments from doctors, parents and anti-pesticide activists, oh and a quote from child entertainer Raffi?? But surprisingly, there were no comments from toxicology experts? U 0f M has a great Agriculture College; was anyone there asked about this?

I have said in several blogs that the public is no longer interested in what scientists have to say. We put ourselves in the hands of the general public’s opinion which is so easily swayed. Does this make any sense at all? If you were in a life and death situation wouldn’t you want a scientist’s opinion vs. public opinion?

We need a new movie genre, NON-SCIENCE FICTION! LOL! I envision a scene where kids are playing soccer in Winnipeg and they get lost in the field of thistles and dandelions because no one would listen to the scientists. 

Ontario has had this law in effect for several years now. I visited our nation’s parliament in Ottawa and was disgusted to see the huge grass fields around the capital covered in dandelions! How embarrassing! Hopefully they have spent our tax dollars by now on students digging up the weeds so it is not so embarrassing. I think the bright young students digging weeds by hand might understand the need for safe use of pesticides.

My Dad is healthy and 94 years old, he started farming in 1945. He remembers when 2,4-D came out it was a godsend. He said many times that our wheat, barley and oats fields were getting overrun with wild mustard, and summer fallow wasn’t helping. My grandfather who was a seed grower/agronomist bought Dad a sprayer, one of the first in the area. Dad custom sprayed 2,4-D for all the neighbours; this was before cabs on tractors, rubber gloves or any regard for safe handling. Dad farmed through the worst times in pesticide use from 1945 -1986. Today the regulations for use and handling are extremely stringent and so they should be. Did I mention that my Dad is 94 and healthy?

When the organic, and radical green activists list all the diseases caused by pesticides with no scientific evidence whatsoever, I shake my head and think of my Dad laughing at these articles filled with misleading pseudo-science. The consequences of this misinformation being allowed to stand as fact are that public opinion becomes dangerously altered, and this can be very difficult to fix. The fallout of a decision like that of the Manitoba government leads to further distrust of agriculture by its affiliation with, and its use of, pesticides. Once again we become the bad guy here, and we haven’t even involved ourselves in the discussion.

No-till farming has made the use of pesticides and herbicides a more calculated and targeted practice, as they are applied at optimal times to be the most effective, and therefore reduce the volume necessary. With the improved soil structure of a no-till system, the added water holding capacity reduces the amount of chemical potentially leaching into water systems, or moving off the field into surface water via wind or water erosion. More and more growers are adopting these practices all the time, and this highly improved environmentally friendly no-till system requires the use of modern pesticides.

I want to ask you again to involve yourself in these debates, and to advocate for agriculture. The only way we can stem the tide of misinformation in cases like this is to demand studies, proof, and facts to back up the claims of the fearful and either prove or debunk their claims.


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