P.E.I. residents using social media to challenge farm activity

Steve Sharratt
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Joan Diamond and her daughter Georgia help run the Pesticide Free P.E.I. group on Facebook.

Once upon a time, people would stop along the roads of Prince Edward Island to wave and take photographs of farmers working in their fields.

They still do, but today it’s sometimes for reasons other than the pretty views and pastoral settings.

P.E.I. farmers are under the microscope, especially when the cellphones come out. Photos are taken, and routine chores like spraying the crop or even fertilizing the soil, appear on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

There’s a pesticide posse sweeping across the province these days, hunting down farming infractions and violations.

One recent incident was a video posted on YouTube, under the title “Weak enforcement of pesticide regulations in P.E.I.,” showing a Tignish area farmer spraying a crop in alleged high winds near Kildare.

The Department of Environment investigated, after the application had taken place, and found no violation.

A charge can only be laid if the pesticide officer is on site to witness the infraction, but there are only two pesticide officers covering the entire province.

According to some observers, people posting to social media sites only reflects the lack of public confidence in the province’s willingness - let alone ability - to enforce agriculture regulations.

Joan Diamond prefers life under the radar.

But that all changed this spring when she took a day off work to garden and the potato field next to her Fairview home, in rural Queens County, was sprayed.

“I had to take all my clothes off the line and go inside my house and shut the windows and doors for the entire day,” said Diamond, who lives near Rocky Point. “When I checked the government website, I discovered that I have no rights whatsoever. They protect the fish, but only because of bad publicity from fish kills, and yet there is zero protection for humans…how it that even remotely possible?”

The Island born mother - whose well water is afflicted with nitrates - is now the page master of the new Pesticide Free P.E.I. group on Facebook. It only started two months ago, but has more than 800 followers and increases daily.

“We are family friends with our farmer and we don’t blame him…farmers are stuck between a rock and a hard place and have to pay the bills,” she said. “But I’m scared for my family to go outside and even drink my own water.”

Pesticide Free P.E.I. wants government to change weak and unenforced pesticide regulations by offering incentives to farmers to phase out what they describe as a pesticide addiction “that spreads poison” on the land.

“Farmers know that people want pesticide-free food, air and water…that’s our right,’’ she said. “Times are changing and the P.E.I. government has to get behind it.”

Like police encouraging cellphone tips on drunk drivers, so goes the public vigilance squad on the prowl for agricultural infractions -- a situation farmers find frustrating.

“It has been said we are farming in a subdivision in P.E.I., and with social media, farmers are subjected to all sorts of harassment and misinformation spread by people who have no clue about agriculture,” said John Jamieson, executive director of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture.

Jamieson said one farmer had a neighbour make three calls about spraying during alleged “high” wind conditions. The subsequent investigation revealed wind speed was only 11 kilometres an hour - well within provincial limits of 20 kilometres an hour.

“From some of the stuff you read (on social media sites) you would think that farmers are out there spraying pesticides for fun,” he said. “They also don’t realize that practically every farmer (conventional or organic) uses pesticides.”

But some Islanders insist the P.E.I. government -- through tacit approval of the status quo -- is creating the hot potato.

Former reporter Ian Petrie covered P.E.I. agriculture for decades and is not surprised at the growing public scrutiny over pesticides on social media.

“I think it is fair ball for the public to be out doing this,” said Petrie, who blogs about food matters. “Government has dropped the ball completely on enforcing such things as crop rotations. So, yes, it’s very fair to take pictures of what’s growing where and what is being sprayed.”

However, he regrets such a “vigilante” environment is festering.

Their view of agriculture is extremely narrow and they seem to view any farmer who is not small and organic as a ‘factory farm.' John Jamieson, executive director of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture

“It speaks to the public lack of confidence in the province’s willingness and ability to enforce anything,’’ he said. “I have concerns because farmers have told me they feel guilty when they're out spraying and feeling judged as if they're doing something wrong.”

Petrie said there’s always been mistrust between the general public and potato farmers.

“The Ghiz gestapo is what some farmers are now calling conservation officers,” he wrote in a recent blog. “While many, many in the general public think conservation officers only swing into action once the fish are dead. This is really troubling.”

The cone of silence is so great that annual pesticide sales data has not been released since 2008. And when the public gets riled over pesticides, the complaints wind up on the desk of Wade MacKinnon.

“There is a definite increase in the number of complaints,’’ said the manager of the Department of Environment investigation and enforcement branch. “We had over 100 complaints last year primarily concerned with wind speeds and spraying, and likely just as many will come before the end of this year.”

The department was successful with two $1,000 convictions in a Summerside courthouse in 2013, and others are pending.

But with only two pesticide officers for the entire province, it’s a busy job.

“It’s a very sensitive issue from both sides,” he said. “But our job is to respond to the public…..and if we determine there is a violation, it’s our job to proceed with legal action.”

While spraying infractions do occur, the department does get some overzealous callers offering inaccurate claims. In one case, a complaint turned out to be nothing more than a farmer fertilizing a field with manure.

“To put it mildly, the public is very sensitized to pesticides now.”

When asked, MacKinnon said it was not his role to comment on whether the legislative teeth of pesticide rules and regulations in P.E.I. were little more like dentures.

“We are driven by public complaints,” he said. “And if we look at the increase of those complaints….we can only imagine there will be more in the future.”

Rollo Bay potato farmer Alvin Kennan is the chairman of the Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture. He says farmers have always struggled to get their story across.

“People are trying to use social media to fit their own agenda,’’ he said. “I am concerned that we are not doing our due diligence as an industry to have the public more informed about how we are looking after the crops, ensuring food safety and using crop protection in a safe manner to prevent losses.”

Jamieson said he is dismayed at the activism and inaccuracies posted by some groups such as the P.E.I. Food Exchange.

“Their view of agriculture is extremely narrow and they seem to view any farmer who is not small and organic as a ‘factory farm’. They also like to perpetuate the notion that P.E.I. has the highest cancer rates caused by pesticides.”

Jamieson said the federation of agriculture is trying to get the real story out about agriculture and has taken on a fairly aggressive communications campaign to combat negativity. It also has its own Facebook page and Twitter account.

Back in Fairview, Diamond said her group is especially worried about glyphosate (Roundup), which was developed by Monsanto and widely used even though there are concerns about the effects on humans and the environment.

Pesticide Free P.E.I. plans to post more videos, including some with testimonials from people affected by pesticides, and is working to secure some celebrity endorsement as well.

“Islanders don’t want to offend anyone, but I’ve had my head stuck in the sand far too long…..we are going to push this as a major issue in the next election,” said Diamond. “There are plenty of examples of people growing good organic food here…the only reason we use pesticides in such quantity is to get a four-inch french fry.”

newsroom@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/PEIGuardian

Organizations: Department of Environment, Pesticide Free P.E.I., P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture Prince Edward Island Federation of Agriculture P.E.I. Food Exchange Monsanto

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Fairview, Tignish Kildare Queens Rocky Point Summerside Rollo Bay

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Comments

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Recent comments

  • want to retire to PEI
    August 11, 2014 - 16:06

    after hearing about all the *cancer belts* the island has...maybe retiring here is not a great idea. ......can't get any information where these *belts* are,,very secretive about this.......any knowledge would be of benefit.looking for useful information

  • Kat Murphy
    August 10, 2014 - 17:46

    I find John Jamieson's comment about the PEI Food Exchange to be somewhat besides the point in an otherwise great article about Islanders using social media to make political change in their communities. "Jamieson said he is dismayed at the activism and inaccuracies posted by some groups such as the P.E.I. Food Exchange. “Their view of agriculture is extremely narrow and they seem to view any farmer who is not small and organic as a ‘factory farm’. They also like to perpetuate the notion that P.E.I. has the highest cancer rates caused by pesticides.” Jamieson said the federation of agriculture is trying to get the real story out about agriculture and has taken on a fairly aggressive communications campaign to combat negativity. It also has its own Facebook page and Twitter account." I would like to reply to this statement by John Jamieson by saying that the PEI Food Exchange was originally established as a local grass roots organization to promote food security on PEI. Food security includes access to nutritious and healthy food. The best and first choice of any informed consumer would be for locally produced organic or "as near to organic" food as possible. The field of holistic nutrition makes it very clear that a body needs clean water and whole foods in a state as close to natural as possible in order to thrive. The political culture of PEI has become a potato baron "oligarchy" and the result is a agricultural mono-culture that has basically destroying our fresh water rivers and fish populations and could very well be the reason behind our horrible cancer rates to say nothing of "gutting" rural culture in PEI since the glorious days the "Million Acre" farm. Today's large scale and industrialized farms have no choice but to control pests with the use of petrochemical pesticides and modern agricultural techniques which have pushed aside many traditional techniques which, in some instances, may very well be the reasons for rising rates of chronic illness around the world. Ask yourself why PEI has the unique position in all of Canada to have as much food insecurity in our rural areas as in our more "urban" centres? Because of corporate farming practices and the fact that the small family farms have been gobbled up or silently emptied due to the intensive need for expensive farming equipment as well as federal and provincial agricultural policies which promote use of these techniques : during that transformation Islanders lost the skills of food production which sustained us through the last Great Depression. The result is that we have some of the worst food security rates in the country now when once the world came to us to learn to grow food. At least according to Old Timers I have spoken with on this subject. The PEI Food Exchange members who post on farming issues might not "understand" the complexities of modern commercial production farming but we do know how and what we want to eat. We want to have food that is healthy and as free of chemical pesticides and residues and GMO's as possible, whether or not it can be proven it causes cancer. At an affordable price for all. Pretty simple. Its a great compliment to know that the PEI Federation of Agriculture has had to start a "fairly aggressive communications campaign to set the "record straight' (but from whose perspective one might ask?) to counter act the so called negativity of PEI Food Exchange facebook group member posts!! I would think that the Federation of Agriculture would do better to realize that these are the sentiments of the people who buy the food that Island farmers produce so that instead of launching aggressive media campaigns, how about listening to what the people are asking for? Pretty simple I say. Power to the People! Thanks Joan Diamond for your activism!!!

  • I wonder
    August 10, 2014 - 09:48

    I wonder if all you environmental heroes will be patting yourselves on the back when Cavendish pulls out and the Island economy collapses. Instead of working with Cavendish you radicals are doing everything you can to get rid of them. Too radical. Too stupid to realize the damage that will be done if you get your way.

    • Aaron
      August 10, 2014 - 12:00

      Steve Harper?? Is that you? I didn't know anyone actually accused those who object to being poisoned of being 'radical' other than him. One of us is too stupid, 'I Wonder', but I suspect you'll figure out who it is when you get sick from pesticide exposure.

    • UPWESTER
      August 10, 2014 - 12:08

      And you are to stupid to see the damage that has been caused by growing french fries. The Island has the highest rates of cancer in Canada as well as the highest obesity rate. The damage that is being done to the soil is probably to much that it will never recover from the chemicals and abuse it has seen in the name of french fries. All in the name of 600 low tech and unskilled jobs. The Island economy survived long before Irving ever got here and it will survive long after they are gone.

    • I wonder 2
      August 10, 2014 - 13:00

      You know, this is not about patting ourselves on the back. It is about finding new ways to thrive without poisoning everything around us. If Irving wins, we all lose. How do you think this keeps happening? http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/dead-fish-pile-up-on-north-river-in-p-e-i-1.2732555

    • ajjakl
      August 10, 2014 - 14:26

      Why don't you go out to North River and see the thousands of dead fish that died this weekend before you make your narrow-minded comments

    • I wonder 2
      August 10, 2014 - 15:32

      You know, this is not about patting ourselves on the back. It is about finding new ways to thrive without poisoning everything around us. If Irving wins, we all lose. How do you think this keeps happening? http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/dead-fish-pile-up-on-north-river-in-p-e-i-1.2732555

    • I wonder
      August 10, 2014 - 17:29

      Pretty much the response I would expect so far from the loonies. Zero answers. Irving is bad. We are all dying of poisoning. I have an idea. Why don't some of you spend a little energy figuring out how you can achieve your goals without attacking one of the largest employers on PEI. How about spending some energy figuring out how to achieve your goals without destroying a BILLION dollar PEI industry. That would be too much effort for you wouldn't it? That would not fit nicely into your ideology. I am not stuck on PEI. I can move whenever I want to so if you wackos destroy Irving you will not be hurting me in any way. You WILL be hurting the MAJORITY of Islanders though. All to achieve you narrow radical goals without ever doing the real work of looking for solutions.

    • intobed
      August 10, 2014 - 19:17

      @I wonder. If you have followed even just some of the stories that have been printed, you might know the answer. Many other crops are being tested by farmers, and others. The hazelnut trees are looking promising, and this year actually made a little profit. Another are the successful orchards springing up, including a very large one currently under construction. One group has developed a varied permaculture farm. Some farms are growing lavender and other herbs, while another grows hot peppers. Bumper crop of blueberries this year! People who care are pushing for the Island to grow hemp as a crop. I said hemp, not pot. Organic farming and its associated research is growing on PEI by leaps and bounds. Did you know that 70% of the world’s population is fed by small farms (UN report). Just because you don’t see the changes happening in PEI moving away from potatoes, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. We can survive the Irvings leaving, as they will, but we need to prepare now.

    • I wonder
      August 10, 2014 - 20:08

      @intobed "The hazelnut trees are looking promising, and this year actually made a little profit. " Really? Hazelnuts are going to sustain our economy? "Another are the successful orchards springing up, including a very large one currently under construction." Why don't you ask them how much pesticides are other chemicals are used in their production? " One group has developed a varied permaculture farm. Some farms are growing lavender and other herbs, while another grows hot peppers." Again, I side crop at best. Virtually no benefit to the PEI economy. "Bumper crop of blueberries this year! " How many chemicals are being used on these berries and what is the benefit when virtually 100% of the berries are being exported. "People who care are pushing for the Island to grow hemp as a crop. I said hemp, not pot." I'm all for hemp growing but where is the market? " Did you know that 70% of the world’s population is fed by small farms " Total BS. 70% of farmers are small farms. That is a FAR cry from saying that 70% of the world population is fed by small farms. It also has ZERO to do with whether or not chemicals are being used on these small farms.

    • PEI Farmer
      August 10, 2014 - 21:17

      In reply to "I wonder" - I am just wondering what you will do when our groundwater is no longer fit to drink because of nitrates and salt water intrusion if we allow the moratorium on high capacity wells to be lifted. If we as a province have to depend on the likes of the Irving corporation in order to survive, God help us. We survived before them and we will survive after them should they choose to leave as they keep threatening to do. I am sure they would have been gone long ago except for the fact they are making money here. Let us not sell ourselves down the drain.

    • Wake Up
      August 11, 2014 - 12:01

      @I Wonder. You are incredibly uninformed. Shockingly so. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paula-crossfield/un-ecofarming-feeds-the-world_b_833340.html Well, either that, or you are more informed than the United Nations, who say Organic Farming is the way to go. Educate yourself. Now everyone on here knows what an 'expert' you really are. "We won't solve hunger and stop climate change with industrial farming on large plantations," Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food and author of the report, said in a press release. "The solution lies in supporting small-scale farmers' knowledge and experimentation, and in raising incomes of smallholders so as to contribute to rural development." And by the way, since when has it been 'radical' to express your views in an article? Let me guess. You are a potato farmer....

  • mike
    August 10, 2014 - 08:56

    I may be out to lunch.But hasent this all started since irving came to town???

  • reality
    August 10, 2014 - 06:02

    many farmers have been forced into being "irving puppets"-they're managers for the irving state

    • Jamie
      August 10, 2014 - 12:54

      It's true. This all started with the Irvings. A lot of these farmers feel like they have no other choice. It's the government that is to blame for not making it easier for people who want to change their toxic ways. More support for farmers is necessary to move forward. And this sort of campaign bringing attention to the issues is a great way to start.

  • Gotta love it..
    August 09, 2014 - 23:08

    Al of a sudden, everyone is an expert on agriculture. The Island is full of big, bad farmers spraying millions of dollars of spray into the wind just to tick everyone off. I ask you two questions: Do you buy everything organic and support local, small farmers (and I already know the answer)? Also, if all that spray causes so much cancer, why isn't every farmer who sprays, and everyone who lives near a sprayed potato field dead by now? Check the ingredients in your cheap loaves of bread and you will notice that you can't even pronounce half of them. It isn't just potatoes: Most of our food is filled with poisonous chemicals.

    • How It Is
      August 10, 2014 - 10:28

      You make a very good point. Yes, people are becoming, not experts, but knowledgeable about where their food comes from. You are obviously avoiding this train. I buy everything I can that's organic. I buy local when ever possible. Have you not been keeping up? Things are changing and people are not tolerating being poisoned and used as playing pieces for big industry to get filthy rich. And they're doing it at great cost because it means something to them. Stop watching television and go out and learn something about what's happening around you.

    • Aaron
      August 10, 2014 - 12:21

      Yes, this is exactly why people choose to eat organic. Do you think those who are concerned about food and health issues aren't already aware that there are no real ingredients in processed foods? We are the ones supporting our local farmers markets, gardening, and knowing our organic farmers. Spare the lecture. We already know better

  • intobed
    August 09, 2014 - 21:35

    Hmmm … John Jamieson and the PEI Federation of Agriculture … isn’t this the group that lobbied the PEI government for years to bring in the hated HST? Who were “delighted” when the government announced the HST being forced upon Islanders, even though it would hurt most Islanders? They don’t care about PEI or Islanders. This lobby group and all who belong to it should be run off the Island. I do not forget, nor forgive.

  • Lee Bellavance
    August 09, 2014 - 21:30

    Not all pesticides are created equal -- some like boric acid are much less poisonous than cholinesterase-inhibiting compounds. Dursban, lorsban, the neonics, and many others are all cholinesterase inhibitors. These products are similar to Sarin and other nerve gases developed originally in Germany during the 30s to KILL PEOPLE. These products are neurotoxins and prevent a firing synapse from shutting off. Just like a light bulb left on, these synapses burn out a lot faster than normal. And, yes, it is happening in Maine and Utah and Connecticut too. And it's not just cancer -- try Parkinson's, pesticide-induced delayed peripheral neuropathy, frequent urination, etc. I applaud those who are attempting to prevent the wholesale poisoning of the public for private profit!

  • Lee Bellavance
    August 09, 2014 - 21:30

    Not all pesticides are created equal -- some like boric acid are much less poisonous than cholinesterase-inhibiting compounds. Dursban, lorsban, the neonics, and many others are all cholinesterase inhibitors. These products are similar to Sarin and other nerve gases developed originally in Germany during the 30s to KILL PEOPLE. These products are neurotoxins and prevent a firing synapse from shutting off. Just like a light bulb left on, these synapses burn out a lot faster than normal. And, yes, it is happening in Maine and Utah and Connecticut too. And it's not just cancer -- try Parkinson's, pesticide-induced delayed peripheral neuropathy, frequent urination, etc. I applaud those who are attempting to prevent the wholesale poisoning of the public for private profit!

  • Lee Bellavance
    August 09, 2014 - 21:29

    Not all pesticides are created equal -- some like boric acid are much less poisonous than cholinesterase-inhibiting compounds. Dursban, lorsban, the neonics, and many others are all cholinesterase inhibitors. These products are similar to Sarin and other nerve gases developed originally in Germany during the 30s to KILL PEOPLE. These products are neurotoxins and prevent a firing synapse from shutting off. Just like a light bulb left on, these synapses burn out a lot faster than normal. And, yes, it is happening in Maine and Utah and Connecticut too. And it's not just cancer -- try Parkinson's, pesticide-induced delayed peripheral neuropathy, frequent urination, etc. I applaud those who are attempting to prevent the wholesale poisoning of the public for private profit!

  • Lee Bellavance
    August 09, 2014 - 21:27

    Not all pesticides are created equal -- some like boric acid are much less poisonous than cholinesterase-inhibiting compounds. Dursban, lorsban, the neonics, and many others are all cholinesterase inhibitors. These products are similar to Sarin and other nerve gases developed originally in Germany during the 30s to KILL PEOPLE. These products are neurotoxins and prevent a firing synapse from shutting off. Just like a light bulb left on, these synapses burn out a lot faster than normal. And, yes, it is happening in Maine and Utah and Connecticut too. And it's not just cancer -- try Parkinson's, pesticide-induced delayed peripheral neuropathy, frequent urination, etc. I applaud those who are attempting to prevent the wholesale poisoning of the public for private profit!

  • Lee Bellavance
    August 09, 2014 - 21:25

    Not all pesticides are created equal -- some like boric acid are much less poisonous than cholinesterase-inhibiting compounds. Dursban, lorsban, the neonics, and many others are all cholinesterase inhibitors. These products are similar to Sarin and other nerve gases developed originally in Germany during the 30s to KILL PEOPLE. These products are neurotoxins and prevent a firing synapse from shutting off. Just like a light bulb left on, these synapses burn out a lot faster than normal. And, yes, it is happening in Maine and Utah and Connecticut too. And it's not just cancer -- try Parkinson's, pesticide-induced delayed peripheral neuropathy, frequent urination, etc. I applaud those who are attempting to prevent the wholesale poisoning of the public for private profit!

  • len
    August 09, 2014 - 17:57

    Patrick, the best fungicide is 1/2 teaspoon of chlorine in 5 gallons of water or 1/2 cup in 1000 gallons of water. Why aren't farmers using this simple effective, cheap and environmentally friendly fungicide?

  • Lynne
    August 09, 2014 - 12:10

    Excellent coverage. Thanks to the Guardian for covering this important story. Mr. Jamieson unfortunately underestimates what Islanders do indeed know about agriculture. It's surprising that he is so willing to go on the record saying how unaware he thinks we all are. Well done, Joan and Pesticide Free PEI! This will indeed be an election issue.

  • yolanda
    August 09, 2014 - 11:41

    many issues at play here. first of all, if governments had had the balls to institute a proper sensible land use plan, where residential development would take place in certain organized areas, away from actual farming, much conflict could be avoided. Such planning would of course have been and still is met with the cry: we want to sell our land when we want to and for what ever purpose. so I say to the harassed farmers, - you are laying in the bed you made, --- and I say to Ms. Diamond why did you locate on a corner of a piece of agricultural land?? If you do not want that land to be used for crops, why don't you just buy it and let it .say fallow, or do you think the owner of the land should accommodate your and let it lay fallow? I don't know what Ms. Diamond's occupation is, but if we don't watch out, the Island economy will be reduced to a point where a lot of civil servants and others will be in danger of loosing their job. Even if an attempt was to be made to turn the whole Island into organic farming, it would take years and lots of money , during which time lot hardship would have to be endured .

    • Aaron
      August 10, 2014 - 12:19

      Sorry, Yolanda, your logic doesn't fly. Regardless of where Joan lives, if she is on PEI, she is being exposed to unsafe levels of pesticide in the air. You don't live next to a field, Yolanda? Guess what, you are being exposed too. http://www.duplisea.ca/attachment-10.pdf As for hardship, talk to a family that is dealing with cancer and then tell me it's too much 'hardship' to do things safer. There are more jobs created by organic farming than there are by this failing model.

  • Stewart Smith
    August 09, 2014 - 09:35

    If Mr. Jamieson thinks that pesticides are not a problem, let's see the figures. Let's see a map showing potato fields vs cancer rates. Like the map showing potato fields and well-water nitrates - I bet it would show a direct correlation.

    • Mark G
      August 10, 2014 - 12:24

      Very interesting comment, Stewart. I suspect you are right. It's scary to me how many people are blind to this. Even if you read the comments on this article, it's clear that there is still a scattering of people with their head stuck in the sand. Willful blindness is very sad, and equally dangerous.

  • Poisonned
    August 09, 2014 - 09:33

    Dear Farmers; I am writing to express to you my deep feelings of remorse regarding my interference with your need to spray. As a flawed human being (ie: one who requires oxygen) I have found myself breathing in some of the mists you've been spraying on your crops. This has proven to be hazardous to my lungs and ability to breathe .. and I am so very sorry, you have no idea how bad I feel .. judging or blaming you for My inability to breathe in toxins. I would also like to take this opportunity to apologize for judging you. I understand you need more money and that trumps my need (or the needs of others, including Island Children, Seniors and .. even some of Your Friends! to breathe. Money comes first .. So .. apart from apologizing for whining and complaining about my decreased and ever decreasing lung capacity and/or ability to breathe and/or the growing numbers of CANCER on PEI .. I would like to ask you to submit to me a bill so that I may compensate you for the toxins I Have injested and/or breathed in .. I willfully took those into me when I sucked in air .. and as they (the pesticides/herbicides/fungicides etc) do NOT belong to me .. I now feel guilty for ""taking"" what isn't mine.. How much (more) do I owe for my foolish attempts to breathe? I feel so bad for "judging" or making 'them' feel """guilty""" .. Maybe I should organize a fundraiser? Sincerely cough cough oops .. there goes the other lung > SORRY!

    • patrick
      August 09, 2014 - 14:42

      if its that bad , why haven't you moved away?

    • WILLIAM H. GATHERCOLE AND NORAH G
      August 09, 2014 - 19:10

      This is mere unverifiable anecdotal hear-say. We demand medical reports. Prove to us that your condition is legitimate.

    • Jamie
      August 10, 2014 - 12:56

      Patrick, you are very naïve if you think that's a reasonable response. Not everyone who is ill has the resources to move away. Especially if they have medical bills. Or are so sick that they cannot work. Think before you write something. Now you just look foolish.

  • enough already
    August 09, 2014 - 09:03

    The farmers have brought this on themselves. Plowing into ditches and streams , running rows down hill. Everyone know this is wrong but they continue to do it . It use to be potatoes , grain , potatoes , now it is potatoes ,soy beans , potatoes which is even worse.

    • Martin
      August 10, 2014 - 12:50

      Agreed. I've had enough of the 'poor farmer' campaign. Take some responsibility for your actions. We've had enough of this situation, and we've had enough of having to subsidize your abhorrent practices! Do you feel good when you see the cancer rates and know you are directly affecting them?

  • sasha
    August 09, 2014 - 08:21

    Farmers should be free to use pesticides and GMO seeds as much as they want as long as they can keep those contained to the land they own. As soon as any of it crosses to someone elses property they should be fined and required to do full clean up and potential damage repair.

    • Beth P
      August 10, 2014 - 12:35

      Good suggestion! There would be a lot of repairs to do at this point.

  • Frustrated Islander
    August 09, 2014 - 07:11

    I beg to differ with Mr. Jamieson. People know plenty about agriculture. We are surrounded by it. They also know more than many farmers about building healthy soil. Farmers know how to real labels and tractor manuals and follow schedules for when and how to add more poison. Anyone who gardens knows the benefits of keeping the soil healthy. Conventional farming methods, as we know them, were developed to keep the fertilizer and pesticide industry making a profit. Well here's a news flash for you. Organic farming has developed too, and it continues to develop, and it's just as advanced as the Monsanto method. There ARE other methods of farming that are not harmful. Things are changing quickly as industrial farms try to take over the Island. There is also a growing demand for organics and the farmers can decide to meet THAT demand or continue doing the stressful job of working for the Irvings while destroying this beautiful island under that watchful eye of frustrated Islanders. The writing is on the wall. Fries are not healthy and neither is conventional farming. People are way more focused on health now so it's only a matter of time.

    • Little Farmer
      August 09, 2014 - 11:06

      Wow, I hope your putting you knowledge to the good of mankind. Since we are surrounded by automobiles, airplanes, nature, fish, water (the list is endless) you must be an expert on that too! I have two acres next to my house I would gladly sell to you so you can show us how to make a living on this. When you fix agriculture can you please go west and sort out the tar sands too. I'm sure they will pay big bucks to an expert to help them out.

    • patrick
      August 09, 2014 - 14:35

      Could you explain to all of us dumb conventional farmers how to keep late blight out of a potato or tomato crop with out the use of modern day pesticides?

    • Frustrated Island
      August 10, 2014 - 08:46

      PATRICK, yes I can. Stop growing potatoes! YOU created that problem by abusing the soil. Healthy soil minimizes pests and diseases. Why am I telling you this? You're a farmer. Do you not know anything about the science of soil? I suggest you study your field, sir. (pun intended).

    • Beth P
      August 10, 2014 - 12:46

      To the farmers below who are so defensive at the idea that there might ACTUALLY be a better way to do things (who in reality are probably the same person) you can definitely make a living on 2 acres of land. So long as you haven't already wrecked it with your irresponsible farming practices. And if you want to know how to protect against blight, take a lesson from the organic farmers. The farmer we deal with hasn't needed to spray anything on their potatoes at all this year. They have healthy soil, earn a decent living for a high end product and don't poison themselves and all around them. For the record, with all the subsidies that are necessary to keep the potato farmers from sinking, I'm not sure you can say you 'earn' a living the way you are doing it now.