The environmental group Earth Action is hoping to get the public to help report pesticide regulatory violations through a new campaign it calls Operation Pesticide Watch.
Earth Action’s coordinator Sharon Labchuk will hold a news conference Wednesday near the North River to launch the campaign that is also meant to organize coordinated lobby efforts.
The group also wants Environment Minister Janice Sherry to immediately release pesticide sales figures for 2009 to 2013 and implement a publicly accessible Pesticide Use Reporting system.
The province is required by law to compile annual pesticide sales data but is not compelled to make the information public.
For most years between 1993 and 2008, the reports were released to the public but after 2008 they stopped. Provincial legislation requires pesticide applicators to keep pesticide use records, including name of pesticide, application rate, crop, location of field, date and start time of application and wind speed.
“P.E.I. is the most intensively sprayed province in the country, yet government’s accountability to inform the public about what toxic chemicals are released in our communities is grossly inadequate,” said Earth Action co-ordinator Sharon Labchuk.
“The pesticide sales reports are at best a crude measure of overall sales and the accuracy of the data is highly suspect. The amount of individual pesticides sold is kept secret by government. P.E.I. needs a public Pesticide Use Reporting system that allows researchers to cross reference pesticide applications in communities with human health and environment effects, like groundwater contamination and bird and bee deaths.”
The science linking pesticide exposure to adverse human and wildlife health effects is well established, said Labchuk.
“Recording details about toxic pesticide use doesn’t prevent human health and environmental damage because once these poisons are released into the environment they’re uncontrollable. But until P.E.I. becomes an organic province the public has a right to know,” said Labchuk.
“Our tragic experience as one of the most intensely sprayed areas in Canada should be documented to help further the global movement to eliminate chemical pesticides.”