Lynne Lund and Sharon Labchuck at a pesticide press conference Wednesday.
When Lynne Lund was pregnant last summer she noticed the field next to her house was often sprayed with pesticides.
Lund was under the impression the farmer was breaking the law.
She was wrong.
“What they were doing was totally legal and I just didn’t realize that so I feel like giving people an opportunity to get more informed is imperative,” she said.
To help people get that information to the public Lund has joined environmental group Earth Action’s new campaign called Operation Pesticide Watch.
Sharon Labchuk is spearheading the campaign and said she hopes that through it people will become better informed about P.E.I.’s pesticide regulations.
The campaign will look for people to take action, including not just reporting violations, but also in getting an understanding of what pesticides are used in P.E.I. and the consequences of their use.
Labchuk said her long-term goal is to have P.E.I. farms all become organic.
“The medium term is to raise enough awareness that people understand that they do have rights and these rights should be translated into more effective regulations to protect human health and the environment.”
Lund said in her case, she called the province about the spraying, someone investigated and she learned she was wrong when she thought the farmer was using pesticides to close to her property.
She then called Labchuk, which led to her involvement with the campaign.
“It’s unbelievable so I wanted to know what I could do to help out in my community.”
Getting information to the public is one of the main goals of Operation Pesticide Watch so people can find out what the regulations are and if farmers are violating those regulations.
If farmers aren’t violating the rules then there is no need to report them.
Labchuk plans to make it a political issue and wants to have organizers in the Kensington-Malpeque and Tracadie-Hillsborough Park electoral districts this summer with plans to eventually cover every riding in the province.
“We based our organizing on these electoral districts so that we can more easily and effectively target specific MLAs to apply pressure and certainly be a force in advance of the upcoming election 2015,” she said.
In response to the campaign P.E.I. Potato Board president Gary Linkletter said farmers do need to be held accountable, which he thinks they are.
“I think you’ll find 99.9 per cent of the farmers are very conscious of the environment, what they’re doing and what not,” he said.
Linkletter also said he hopes if the public does get involved in the campaign that they are aware farmers use registered products and if there is an issue that they talk to the farmer involved to get the other side of the story.
“I think most farmers would be very agreeable to discussing things with their neighbours to explain what they’re doing and things like that.”
He hopes the campaign will be more of a dialogue than a confrontation, Linkletter said.
“I think it takes dialogue and it takes working together as opposed to confrontation.”