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Health advocates laud move to ban pesticides

Jordana Huber and Tony Spears, Canwest News Service and The Ottawa Citizen - Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Stores pull products as Ontario introduces tough legislation

TORONTO – The Ontario government used Earth Day to introduce legislation banning the use and sale of pesticides for cosmetic purposes, taking aim at more than 70 chemicals found in 300 products.

If passed the law would take effect next spring and replace a patchwork of more than 40 bylaws across the province. It would also impose new regulations on cities such as Ottawa that don’t prohibit pesticide use.

“Our generation has taken to the cosmetic use of pesticides, I think perhaps unwittingly not fully understanding the dangers it represents to ourselves but most importantly to our children,” Premier Dalton McGuinty said yesterday.

Health advocates applauded the bill arguing the effects of chemicals on children and pregnant women can lead to cancer or neurological problems.

“If this legislation is enforced it will be the toughest in North America,” said Gideon Forman of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.

Golf courses will still be allowed to use pesticides so long as they submit a management plan to the province and farmers and the forestry sector will also be exempt. Chemicals deemed necessary by public health officials will be allowed.

A spokesman for CropLife Canada, the trade association representing the country’s pesticide manufacturers, said the province was setting a bad precedent because the products under review have been approved for use by the federal government.

An environmental advisory board is studying the issue and is expected to report back to a council committee in June.

But those who sell lawn care products are already moving ahead. The Home Depot yanked pesticides from four of its Ontario stores yesterday and all 166 Canadian stores will follow suit by the end of the year.

“We could see more and more municipal bans that were being drafted,” said Home Depot director of communications Pat Chapman. But as a national company Home Depot decided to go “above and beyond just the municipal level and the provincial level.”

Canadian Tire spokeswoman Lisa Gibson said she wouldn’t rule out a national policy change, but that the company would continue to focus on Ontario for the time being. She added the company has been stocking fewer pesticides and replacing them with environmentally friendly alternatives.

© The Ottawa Citizen 2008

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