Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ontario's Pesticide Ban: The Triumph Of Junk Science

This morning, the Ontario government announced it would be implmenting a province-wide ban on non-essential cosmetic pesticide use.

I have a fair bit of experience with this particular subject, and I can tell you that this ban is absolute nonsense. I have read many, many studies published by international research bodies over the course of many years and there is ABSOLUTELY NO PROOF that there is a direct link between pesticide use and human health, including cancer. None.

One herbicide in particular, 2-4-D, has been tested for 50 years. Any link to cancer or other disease has never been found. NEVER. Health Canada tests these products frequently and finds them safe (as long as you don't drink them or bathe in them).

This is all being done under the concept of "prudent avoidance", which means "well, we don't know for 100% certain that they are safe (as "safe" can be objectively defined), so we should just not use them at all." I am not surprised the McGuinty Liberals made this a part of their election platform, given how they are trying to present themselves as "green." It doesn't hurt that the provincial Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Sheela Brasur, implemented the Toronto ban which got the ball rolling.

So why does this proposed ban bother me? A couple of reasons:

First, the language used in this announcement illustrates that the environmental activists have completely co-opted this initiative. Things like "non-essential use" and "potential toxic effects" and the heavy emphasis on children and cancer are hallmarks of this movement. It is interesting to note that they never say it is actually harmful - they say "the potential toxic effects of pesticides." Of course, its not dangerous enough to stop the use on golf courses, which are usually hundreds of acres in size and located near residential development.

Secondly, it is introducing legislation that tells people what they can and can't do on their own private property. That bothers me, especially when there is no actual threat. I'm a big fan of property rights.

Thirdly, this ban is a lot like the climate change debate. In the name of "the environment" and "human safety" government is taking (expensive) steps to do something that will likely have no positive impact on the environment but will cost taxpayers, propoerty owners and business people.

Environmental zealots are using fear and "potential risk" to promote heavy handed public policy options without really having any concrete proof that there is any risk to mitigate.

Think this won't affect you? Then clearly you don't own property. Grubs can lay waste to an entire lawn in weeks. Weeds grow 2.5 times faster than grass. One dandelion can produce millions of spores which can take over an entire lawn very quickly.

I hope you have the time to pour beet juice or vinegar over each weed next summer, or hire a professional to tend to your property, because that's what its going to cost you.

Think of it as McGuinty's "potential risk" tax on your home.

Junk science triumphs once again. Bring on the carbon tax.

Let's start by accepting that pesticides are, by definition, poisons.

Their effects on human health aren't limited to hypothetical damage over time. They can and do cause immediate illness to people with environmental allergies and/or asthma.

Nobody has the right to poison the air over my property, or over public sidewalks. Certainly not in order to kill dandelions.
Poisioning what? Humans aren't weeds or plants. Just because they kill them doesn't mean they'll do anything to people.

And sure, people should not be subjected to asthma attacks, but where is the causality? By your logic, we should be banning cars, trucks and any other gas engine to ensure the environmentally allergic are not subjected to smog.

Poison the air over my property? Sorry, are your neighbors driving by your house with aerial spray trucks? Its over the top rhetoric like this that drives me crazy.

Most professionals use spot treatments for weeds. To hear you tell it, people are using crop dusters on their lawns.

Give me a break. Show me the science and I'll support the ban.

And as always, its interesting the first contributors are first-timers with an envrionmental bent.

Must be a good Google alert.
Read the fine print because the last time this came up it did not apply to Toronto's Public Golf Courses according to mayor Miller .

So lets see how the SCOC deals with a law that bans a Federal approved product in Ontario but then allows it in Ontario for Golf Courses run by Toronto for profits.

This will just be another bogus law like No-Smoking in the workplace except for the CBC Office in Toronto and the TTC Drivers who stand beside their bus in the Station and smoke , or the workers in the Tunnels that Smoke at will .
(This the first anonymous again.)

1. This is my first post on your blog, but hardly my first at a member of the Blogging Tories. The idea that conservatives can't be environmentalists is a strange one anyway.

2. We don't need science to tell us what we can directly experience (eventually it may tell us the why and the how behind the what). You can smell herbicides, so you know they are in the air; some of us are made immediately ill, so we know they are harmful.

3. Smog does not have nearly as strong an immediate impact, and is produced by more important activities. In any case much can be done to alleviate it; the federal Conservative government is investing in public transit, and John Tory would have installed scrubbers in our coal power plants.

4. Unfortunately, I suspect anonymous #2 will be proven correct; McGuinty likes to talk big on the environment but seldom fulfills his promises (see: coal burning power plants).
Anon #2: (why don't people just use a name?) I might be missing your point. Golf courses are exempt, which just shows how relative the "danger" is.

Anon #1: My apologies. You're right - I shouldn't assume you're some leftie troll, but given the history of this blog, its a reasonable assumption. I also completely agree with you that conservatism and environmentalism are not mutually exclusive.

I conceed your point that this is a welcome respite for those with environmental allergies or sensitivities. However, I don't think that is the motivation behind this ban - its not about public safety, its about appeasing a particular interest group.

I go back to my original point - you seen these as poisions, I see them as weed/plant killers. Big difference. Just as in the climate debate, we need to be weary of just jumping on top of something because we THINK there is a problem. Sometimes it just makes the problem worse.

Ask the folks in Africa dying of malaria i they really have a problem with DDT - apparently a "toxic" pesticide. A perfect (although admittedly extreme) example of prudent avoidance gone horribly wrong.
Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]