Far more important to protect our health

Editor, The News:

Re: Pesticide tools proven safe time after time (Letters, May 27).

Lorne Hepworth is president of CropLife Canada, a transnational company promoting the use of pesticides.

Mr. Hepworth, who happens to be a former veterinarian from Saskatchewan, is notorious for sending similar letters to editors throughout Canada.

He is a great friend of Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), which has no labs of its own and merely examines toxicological (rat) data provided by the industry.

There are approximately 250 toxicologists and only two epidemiologists at the PMRA. It is, thus, not surprising that the PMRA is very weak in examining independent epidemiological (human) studies. The process is far from being rigorous.

Mr. Hepworth calls Canadian urban pesticide bans unscientific and arbitrary, because they impact the sales of pesticides his CropLife Canada promotes. In fact, the science which argues against the unnecessary use of pesticides is convincing.

Pesticides are supposedly safe when applied by trained applicators.

Using pesticides according to the label indeed protects the applicator, but doesn’t affect the actual toxicity of the applied product.

For example, children remain vulnerable long after the given pesticide has been applied. The pesticide residues brought inside the house on shoes may stay active for an entire year.

It is obviously far more important to protect human health, especially that of young children, than apply pesticides on suburban turf, which can be maintained in excellent condition by means of non-toxic methods of lawn maintenance.

Canadians should not feel “comfortable” using toxic chemicals intended to kill, some of which were invented for use on the battlefield.

For example, herbicides such as 2,4-D are linked not only to adult, but also child cancer, endocrine system disruption, neurological and immune systems damage, Parkinson’s, diabetes, asthma, and behavioural and learning disabilities.

Much of the applied herbicide consists of secret, allegedly “inert” additives. Thus what is officially tested is but an insignificant portion of the ready-to-use product.

Moreover, combinations such as PAR III – consisting of herbicides 2,4-D, mecoprop and dicamba – are not tested as such, even though a synergistic (reinforcing) effect is suspected.

K. Jean Cottam, PhD

Ottawa, Ont.