Editorial -- Why continue to use Pesticides?

July 22, 2008 While a provincial pesticide ban is expected to take place in the spring of 2009, some communities are light years ahead of the province and are enacting their own pesticide bans.

London, for instance, has one of the strongest environmental policies in the province and, more recently and closer to home for those in Bruce County, Walkerton has instituted a total pesticide ban, thanks to Mayor Charlie Bagnato.

It is hard to understand why people insist on spraying a chemical known to be poisonous to animal, insect and human life simply to eradicate what is natural vegetation. For those who seem bent on having the perfect green lawn, ask yourself why warnings can include:

-Keep out of reach of children - harmful if inhaled or absorbed through skin. Avoid breathing dust or vapor.

-Keep children or pets off treated areas.
-Do not graze treated areas or use clippings for feed or forage.
-Do NOT plant any food within one year of a treatment.

Those companies that have convinced home owners that sprays of pesticides, insecticides and herbicides are the way to go, are supposed to place a sign on the treated area that is to remain for 48 hours. Why is that, if there is no danger in the product? Also, the sign posted must state the chemical used.

One such sign, documented by a photograph, reads Registration No. 25932 and is known as Merit Solupak Insecticide that contains imidacloprid. Why worry about imidacloprid? Well, some of the affects from sprays that contain it are, difficulty breathing, loss of the ability to move, staggering, trembling, spasms, apathy and it has also been linked to causing thyroid lesions.

In addition, and which should be of great concern to everyone, is this product is highly toxic to to aquatic invertebrates, earthworms and honey bees, not mention humans.

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Being touted as a 'grub killer', it in fact kills parasitic wasps that actually control grub larvae so that the grub problem actually escalates.

France, for instance, has completely banned any use of the chemical because of the dramatic world decline in the bee population. Yet, here we are in Saugeen Shores, one of the most prized natural settings anywhere, using one of the most toxic substances known to man.

What else does it affect? It is also highly toxic to certain species including the house sparrow, pigeons, canaries and limits the mobility of lady beetles and other predatory insects and has been known to cause birth defects.

This particular chemical is also extremely long-lasting and has a half-life of up to 730 days and can build up over years, particularly in agricultural applications.

The label stipulates that food crops cannot be planted for one year after application. Therefore, two growing seasons would have to elapse before harvesting.

As of June 12, 2007 there were four commercial insecticides registered that contain imidacloprid and they all bear the name of Merit.

Environmentally, according to hazardous listings, products containing imidacloprid, are not to be applied to terrains where there is a 'potential' for surface run-off to enter aquatic systems. Would this not be difficult to prevent in an area saturated with underground springs lying beneath porous sand layers and leading into a lake? Yet, here we are living on the coast of a great lake that used to be an ancient shoreline consisting of a sandy base and a spring fed aquafer using one of the most toxic insecticides found anywhere.

According to scientists at the recent Lake Huron Learning conference held in Saugeen Shores, Lake Huron is one of the healthiest of the Great Lakes and it is fast losing its status thanks to the actions and inactions of man.

For those who use sprays in order to cosmetically promote a green, weed-free lawn, ask yourself this - are there, or have there been, diseases in your family that have been proven as being related to the use of these sprays ... e.g. cancers, Parkinson's, thyroid, tremors, breathing difficulties, tumours, etc.?

It's time to get with the program here - the program being the well-being of our children, our families, our community and our planet.