Wetland stewards now have the opportunity to share their opinions on the BC government’s proposed ban of cosmetic pesticide use. An online questionnaire is available to the public until Friday, December 16th. Please give this your immediate attention in order to have an impact!
British Columbia would be the 5th Canadian province to put a ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides (Ontario & Nova Scotia have the strongest laws) if our provincial government decides it is in favour of the motion. The decision will be made by a special bipartisan committee who will consider the views of the public and of stakeholders such as the Forestry & Agriculture industries. Public consultation has been in process since December 16, 2009, and now Premier Christy Clark has committed to further exploring a ban on the unnecessary use of pesticides for the health & safety of our communities. The health of our water and wetlands should also be a top priority here.
A few things to note when considering the use of cosmetic pesticides:
Last month, Josette Weir (a Smithers BC- based activist & Paediatrician) took Health Canada to court in Vancouver with the help of West Coast Environmental Law & The Driftwood Foundation. In an interview with the Pacific Free Press she stated:
“There are many recent studies showing that Round-up and many other Glyphosate-based pesticides contain an ingredient known as POEA that is toxic to amphibians and perhaps also to humans and human embryos, but Health Canada refused to initiate a formal review of the safety of these pesticides.”
These pesticides are commonly and widely used by agriculture, on lawns and forests, and they pose a real potential threat to amphibians inhabiting ephemeral wetlands.
Dr. Cathy Vakil (Assistant Professor in the department of Family medicine at Queens University) was interviewed by the David Suzuki Foundation this year in regards to the ban on cosmetic pesticides. In this interview she pointed out the correlation between the Ontario pesticide ban and the improvement of water quality:
“An Ontario Ministry of Environment study showed that water quality improved after the province implemented legislation to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides. Concentrations of several common herbicides and insecticides were significantly lower after the ban took effect than before 2008. In some streams, pesticide levels were as much as 97 per cent lower after the ban was enforced.”
South of the border, a great deal of information has been published on the effects of pesticides in wetlands. Science Daily reported in 2008 that:
“Ten of the world’s most popular pesticides can decimate amphibian populations when mixed together even if the concentration of the individual chemicals are within limits considered safe, according to University of Pittsburgh research.”
US Berkley News reported in 2006:
“The pesticide brew in many ponds bordering Midwestern cornfields is not only affecting the sexual development of frogs, but is making them more prone to deadly bacterial meningitis, according to a new study by University of California, Berkeley, scientists.”
Discussion around the effects of pesticide use on wildlife has gone on for decades. We have strong evidence that the use of cosmetic pesticides can cause cancer and neurological disease in humans and this has fueled the ‘con’ side of the debate. The problem is that these chemicals can also harm our amphibians, pollinator insects, butterflies, hummingbirds and salmon fry. Please take this information to the online survey. The 5 minutes you spend sharing your voice will greatly benefit your neighbours- and not just those of the Homo sapiens variety!