Push-back on pesticide ban

‘Scientific, medical claims shoddy to non existent’

By Alex Binkley
True North Perspective

Originally published in Ontario Farmer

A Kingston based company is organizing legal challenges against municipal pesticide bans in hopes the civil actions will halt implementation of Ontario legislation to outlaw so-called cosmetic pesticides.

Jeffrey Lowes, Director of Government & Industrial Relations with MREP Communications, said when his company began digging into the basis of municipal bans at the request of lawn care companies, it found the scientific and medical claims behind them are shoddy to non existent. And that doctors speaking in support of the ban don’t appear to have the professional or academic standing they claim, he said.

What’s more, he’s convinced if the provincial ban goes through then iron-clad guarantees that agriculture pesticides won’t be affected are worthless and that strict fertilizer limits on farmers won’t be far behind.

“The introduction of the Ontario bill is the cumulative effect of the false and misleading information presented at the municipal level,” he said. Municipal bylaws on pesticides are “based on conjecture and hearsay with no regards to science.

“We are taking the municipalities to court based on what officials said in public and on web sites about pesticides and lawn care products,” Lowes said.

The company has presented its evidence on the quality of evidence behind the provincial ban to both the Environment Ministry and Environment Commissioner Gord Miller. He said the officials in the Environment Ministry promoting the ban used to be activists in environmental groups opposed to pesticides.

The civil suits against at least three municipalities won’t contest their right to introduce bylaws but will seek relief based on the lack of scientific evidence behind them, Lowes explains.

He said bans in eastern Ontario have been based on testimony by a man who claimed to be a doctor but is not registered to practice in Ontario and doesn’t appear to have a PhD as claimed. He said the Canadian Pediatric Society has disavowed any connection with a report claiming harm to children from pesticides. The other document used as evidence was from the Ontario College of Family Physicians and has been widely criticized in scientific circles. 

Members of the lawn care industry have the best training and should not be unfairly penalized by the political arm of the Ministry of the Environment, he says. “Science and proper training and not the court of public opinion should govern good environmental stewardship.”
He says that banning products the government may create a black market for products from the United States that aren’t approved by the Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency. He said the anti-pesticide groups “counted on the fact the provincial government would not verify the information (in their claims), a mirror of what took place at the municipal level.”