B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix will introduce a bill in the B.C. legislature Thursday calling for a ban on cosmetic pesticides.
This is the third time the NDP will introduce legislation proposing a toxic pesticides ban, according to Dix, who held a press conference in a Kitsilano park today (May 4) to announce the bill.
“We introduced this legislation a number of years ago first, and then again last year on Earth Day,” said Dix.
“The government has failed to respond again and again and again, while other jurisdictions, such as Quebec, such as Ontario, have acted, our government has failed to act.”
Dix said a ban on cosmetic pesticides has been supported by municipalities across B.C., and by the Canadian Cancer Society.
“It supports I think the view of the community that the environment should come first, and that’s true in urban British Columbia, as it is in rural British Columbia,” said Dix. “I think it’s a necessary piece of legislation at a time when the environmental health threats grow in our society.”
NDP environment critic Rob Fleming noted that Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia have provincial laws banning the use of cosmetic pesticides.
“Bylaws restricting pesticides like the City of Vancouver has are not effective to restrict the retail sale and use of pesticides and keep them from getting into our environment and keep them away from our children in our environment,” said Fleming.
Carolyn Gotay, a UBC professor and Canadian Cancer Society Chair in cancer primary prevention, sent a letter to all B.C. MLAs last year outlining the potential health risks associated with cosmetic pesticides.
Gotay hopes to see a ban on pesticides in B.C. similar to the legislated bans in other provinces.
“I think it would be great,” she told the Straight in a phone interview. “It’s surprising to me that BC, which has quite a high priority placed on the environment and the importance of the environment, hasn’t enacted a ban at this point.”
Gotay said that while medical evidence is “imperfect,” there are suggestions that cosmetic pesticides are linked to an increased probability of cancers.
She noted that studies conducted with people who handle pesticides more frequently, such as farmers, show there are increased rates of different types of cancer, such as lymphoma.
Research conducted in Europe shows a decrease in lymphoma rates in countries that introduced a ban on cosmetic pesticides, she said.
“There’s a lot of suggested evidence that probably it does relate to increased cancer rates, and there’s nothing on the other side that says that there is a need for these cosmetic pesticides,” said Gotay.
“Given that there are alternatives, then it seems like why not err on the side of caution. We might as well take an approach to protect our health.”