Pesticides: a grave oversight
Here is a typical overpriced government service that is supposed to look after it's constituents' health. Yet repeatedly we are abused by the very governments that we support in good faith - gullibly thinking that, as promised by the politicians, that the regulatory bodies, after all, exist for the protection of the tax payers...
..."These substances kill living things and are released directly into the environment. The public is concerned about pesticide safety."...
Everybody knows, except the government, that pesticides are poisonous. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that poisons need to be assessed before they can be used vilynily. If something has not yet been tested should it not be prudent, not to use it till such time that it has been assessed for safety? Given that every time pesticides are tested they are either further restricted or outright banned, so why the resistance to ban untested chemicals on our lawns?
..."Every pesticide that has been re-evaluated has either had its legal uses further restricted or has been pulled off the shelves because it has been found to pose unacceptable risks."...
Listen to CBC interview with Johanne Gélinas - author of the audit on this disgraceful legacy.
..."This is the fourth audit of federal pesticide management in 15 years. The federal government has long known about many of these problems. New legislation and funding provide new opportunities, but the government's response so far leads me to question whether it takes pesticide safety concerns seriously."...
To add insult to injury Health Canada seems to have lots of resources running amuck regulating the generally safe products such as vitamins and associated health products, which have a sterling track record, at the expense of real toxic drugs and pesticides.
They continue to blatantly abuse their mandate and have shamelessly, in broad daylight no less, joined the industry cartels for profit at any cost! Knowing all to well that most of us have no time or money to challenge them...
Not only are our tax dollars are being wasted but we have to spend our hard earned, after tax, money and time to take these scoundrels to court, just do their job - what a scam. See:
Vested interests need centralization, as it provides single point of control. If you think the pressure for Globalization, with all its regulations such as WTO and CODEX, is just for fun then think again.
..."Does our food contain harmful pesticide residues? If so, what are the long-term health effects? What are the health hazards of using pesticides on lawns? What are the impacts on fish, birds, pets -- and children?...
...Every pesticide that has been re-evaluated has either had its legal uses further restricted or has been pulled off the shelves because it has been found to pose unacceptable risks...
...I'm also troubled by the heavy and repeated use of temporary registrations. My audit found instances of temporary registrations issued despite lack of information on impacts on children's central nervous systems. More than half of all recent registrations are temporary. Worse, they're frequently renewed; some have been extended five times."...
Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2003
The Globe and Mail
Ottawa doesn't know nearly enough about the chemicals on our food and our lawns, warns Environment Commissioner JOHANNE GÉLINAS
By JOHANNE GÉLINAS
Across the country, Canadians are passionately debating whether or not to ban pesticides that keep lawns weed-free. The federal government committed itself to re-evaluating eight lawn pesticides by 2001. Last March, when my audit of federal pesticide management was completed, five of those eight re-evaluations were still underway.
The government's failure to produce timely results leaves Canadians wondering if they are being unnecessarily exposed to dangerous toxic substances on their own front lawns. My annual report, tabled yesterday in the House of Commons, found that such delays are common at the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), a branch of Health Canada. Ottawa is not managing pesticides effectively, nor can it honestly say that pesticide use in Canada is safe.
Pesticides help produce and preserve the food we eat. We use them in forests, gardens and on lawns, to control parasites on pets, and combat the spread of diseases such as West Nile virus. But there are risks: These substances kill living things and are released directly into the environment. The public is concerned about pesticide safety. After my audit, so am I.
Does our food contain harmful pesticide residues? If so, what are the long-term health effects? What are the health hazards of using pesticides on lawns? What are the impacts on fish, birds, pets -- and children?
The public is asking the right questions. But from top to bottom in the federal government, I found significant problems. Many pesticides were registered for legal use decades ago when health and environment standards were lower. They're now being re-evaluated to see if they meet current standards -- but the work is not well-managed and is going too slowly.
In 1999, the federal government said it would re-evaluate 405 active ingredients approved for use in Canadian pesticides by 2006. Since then only six active ingredients have been fully re-evaluated. (A handful of others are being pulled from the market by the manufacturers.) My audit found that the PMRA has not spent enough on its re-evaluation program. It does not deal first with the highest-risk pesticides that are most widely used in Canada. If an old pesticide is found to be unsafe, the PMRA has no rule on how quickly it should be taken off the market.
These are not theoretical problems. Every pesticide that has been re-evaluated has either had its legal uses further restricted or has been pulled off the shelves because it has been found to pose unacceptable risks.
The PMRA must also evaluate more than 3,000 new pesticide applications each year. In many cases, it is not meeting its own timelines for approving new, possibly safer pesticides -- so farmers and other users spray with older products, with potential health risks.
I'm also troubled by the heavy and repeated use of temporary registrations. My audit found instances of temporary registrations issued despite lack of information on impacts on children's central nervous systems. More than half of all recent registrations are temporary. Worse, they're frequently renewed; some have been extended five times.
The PMRA acts on limited and unreliable information about actual pesticide use and impacts in the real world; its assessments are built on a foundation of assumptions. One is that users comply with label directions. This is unrealistic. The PMRA recently collected soil samples from 20 Ontario onion growers; testing for pesticide residue, it found that 18 of the farmers weren't following the rules set out to protect health and the environment.
The problems don't lie only with the PMRA. Health Canada has done little to understand the health impacts of pesticides. Canadians are operating in the dark about the long-term environmental effects on water quality, which is a responsibility of Environment Canada and others. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency's monitoring program is limited: It conducts only a small number of tests, and has none at all for residues of nearly 40 per cent of the pesticides in agricultural use. This raises questions about whether we know enough about pesticide residues on the food we eat.
Overall, my audit has found a large gap between the federal government's promises and its performance in managing pesticides. This is the fourth audit of federal pesticide management in 15 years. The federal government has long known about many of these problems. New legislation and funding provide new opportunities, but the government's response so far leads me to question whether it takes pesticide safety concerns seriously.
Canadians want to know: Just how safe are the pesticides we use? The federal government should be able to answer that question. But it can't.
Johanne Gélinas is Canada's Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development. Her latest report is on the Auditor-General
Web site (http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca).
posted by Chris Gupta on Thursday October 16 2003
updated on Thursday March 13 2008
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