Pesticides don’t make for “happier, healthier communities”

Re: And now a word from the pro-pesticide lobby by Lorne Hepworth, president of CropLife Canada, an industry lobby group, published in The Revelstoke Current on June 23, 2010.

Personally, I don’t understand how regular exposure to toxic poisons makes for “happier, healthier communities.” (By the way, true and difficult to control infestations are usually exempt from pesticide bans.)

It is predictable that a lobbyist such as Dr. Lorne Hepworth will sing the undeserved praises of Health Canada. I happen to be in possession of solid facts pertaining to Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA).

This regulatory agency, which has no labs of its own, is paid by the industry for each pesticide registration and has an altogether too friendly relationship with that industry.

The PMRA is basing its conclusions on industry provided, convenient toxicological (rat) data. Bear in mind that rats have detoxification genes missing in humans.

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 that deal with human rather than rodent health.

Using pesticides according to the label protects the applicator, but doesn’t affect the actual toxicity of the product–children remain vulnerable long after the pesticide had been applied. For example, the residues brought inside the house on shoes may stay active for an entire year.

Pesticides (includes all the “cides”) migrate from the soil to groundwater. They bind soil particles and rise in the air as dust. They fall in the rain and they are detectable in a fog.

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

Much of the applied herbicide consists of a secret, allegedly “inert” additive. The “inert” formulant is suspected of being not so inert. Thus what is officially tested is a very small portion of the total herbicide. Moreover, herbicide combinations such as PAR III—consisting of 2,4-D, mecoprop and dicamba–are not tested as such, even though a synergistic (reinforcing) effect is suspected.

K. Jean Cottam, PhD