B.C. MLAs’ recommendations disappoint supporters of cosmetic pesticide ban
The Canadian Cancer Society is disappointed after a special legislative committee of B.C. MLAs failed to recommend a provincial ban on the use of cosmetic pesticides for lawns and gardens.
“The Canadian Cancer Society is very concerned about the use of cosmetic or unnecessary pesticides on lawns and gardens,” society spokesperson Kathryn Seely told the Straight by phone today (May 17). “We base this statement on the growing body of evidence that suggests there are links between substances used in pesticides and cancer.”
“We know that children are particularly vulnerable to pesticides because their organs and bodies are growing and developing and they play close to the ground,” Seely said. “The Canadian Cancer Society believes we don’t have to wait for scientific certainty before we prohibit the use of these unnecessary chemicals on lawns and gardens and places our children play.”
After a ten-month-long review, the legislative committee determined there is not enough scientific evidence to justify a ban on cosmetic pesticide use in B.C.
“The majority of the committee does not think the scientific evidence, at this time, warrants an outright ban,” Liberal MLA Bill Bennett, the committee chair, said in a statement. “We are not prepared to say to homeowners that purchasing 2,4-D is prohibited, under all circumstances, or that they cannot hire a qualified person to apply it to their lawns.”
The all-party legislative committee—with a majority of Liberal MLAs—was formed in June 2011 to look into the use of pesticides and the possibility of a ban.
In a report tabled today in the legislature, the committee made a series of recommendations on the sale and use of pesticides. These included calls for a ban on commercial-class pesticides for uncertified users, tougher rules around the sale of pesticides, and efforts to educate the public and encourage use of alternatives to pesticides.
Seely, with the Canadian Cancer Society—B.C. and Yukon, encouraged British Columbians to continue pushing for a legislated ban.
“The [committee’s] report was slow in coming, it’s weak in content and it is disappointing overall, especially when you consider the number of British Columbians that already support cosmetic pesticide legislation and that actually responded to not one but two B.C. government consultations,” she said.
Opposition New Democrat environment critic Rob Fleming, the committee’s deputy chair, also said the outcome of pesticide review is disappointing. The NDP is among those supporting a ban on cosmetic pesticides.
“Instead of making good on the premier’s repeated promise to ban cosmetic pesticides, the Liberals have brought in minimal regulatory changes,” Fleming said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, despite the fact that it's the right thing to do and has overwhelming support from British Columbians, the government majority on the committee has chosen to bring in status quo recommendations instead of advancing protections that 22 million Canadians in six provinces currently enjoy,” he said.
Cosmetic pesticide bans are already in place in Ontario and Quebec, and dozens of B.C. municipalities have introduced restrictions.
During the committee’s review, more than 8,600 groups and individuals took part in an e-consultation. Most respondents to a questionnaire supported a cosmetic pesticide ban.
“We had an unprecedented level of public interest and participation for a legislative committee, reflecting a widespread consensus among the public and scientific community that the cosmetic use of pesticides pose an unnecessary health risk to children, pets and our water supply," Fleming said.
“There are viable non-synthetic alternatives that are already available and the associated health risks of cosmetic pesticides warrants government action to reduce everyday exposure to toxins that are potentially harmful and easily misused.”