Nothing cosmetic about pesticides

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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Letter of the Day

Editor: Re: Opinion page article “Just say no to cosmetic pesticides,” The Guardian,  May 2, 2014.

Pesticides help protect private and public properties from insect, weed and disease infestations and control threats to human health, like rats and mosquitoes. They also help ensure that Canadians have a safe and affordable supply of food. Unfortunately, a recent column provided misinformation about the safety of pesticides used to protect private and public green spaces that must be corrected.  

Health Canada evaluates all pesticides before they can be sold in Canada. Whether these products are used on lawns or crops, regulators base their decisions on the best available scientific information. Quite simply, Health Canada does not approve any product for use that poses an unacceptable risk to humans or the environment.

For a person with a scientific background, Mr. Gordon should know better than to cherry pick information that supports his view on this topic. Mr. Gordon’s assertion that Health Canada reviews only the active ingredient is simply false. It is unfortunate that he is resorting to scare tactics in his attempt to undermine the rigorous regulatory system in place for pesticides.

In actual fact, Canadians have never lived longer, healthier lives. Take life expectancy in the 1950s as an example, where the average female lived to 71. Today, on average, women can expect to live to 82.

Overall cancer rates continue to decline year after year. Unfortunately, for some people, these facts get in the way of an otherwise sensational story.

Urban pesticide bans do not make for a healthier environment. As seen in other jurisdictions, such as Ontario, bans deprive residents of the ability to use federally approved tools to control pest infestations, forcing them to use more expensive, less effective alternatives, turn to illegal products or abandon control measures on their properties altogether.

By all means, readers can practice other techniques to keep their lawns and gardens healthy, but pesticide policy should be driven by sound science and science shows that pesticides can be safely used.

Ted Menzies,

President, CropLife Canada,

(representing the plant science industry)

Organizations: Health Canada

Geographic location: Canada, Ontario

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