Pallister calls for caution on cosmetic pesticide ban

Brian Pallister says Ontario’s ban has resulted in grass fields being replaced by artificial turf harbouring infectious bacteria

Banning pesticides from Manitoba lawns and sport fields could have unintended negative consequences, says Manitoba Progressive Conservative Party Leader Brian Pallister.

Banning so-called “cosmetic pesticides” — those not used in agricultural production — in Ontario has resulted in “an explosion of artificial turf fields,” because grass fields have been overrun by weeds, Pallister said in a news release last week. And fake turf has created an epidemic of staph infections.

“I don’t think that’s the answer for Manitoba, but Manitobans need to understand that’s the reality of this course of action that this government is proposing,” Pallister told reporters while visiting Ag Days Jan. 15.

“From an agricultural standpoint I’m always concerned when I see an unscientific approach taken in legislation. And the science around for the approval process of cosmetic pesticides is extremely onerous.

“If there’s a danger with a pesticide it isn’t allowed.”

Weeds from lawns and sport fields represent a threat to neighbouring farmland, Pallister added.

“Banning a pesticide because some people are overapplying it doesn’t seem to be a smart approach to legislation any more than banning food because some people overeat is a smart approach.”

Last year the Manitoba government announced it was considering a ban on cosmetic pesticides.

“Where the use is for non-essential, lawn applications, the risks that have been red flagged by many organizations and scientists and doctors, really compel us to look to see if there are precautions that should be taken,” Conservation Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh said in an interview. “It’s about being cautious and looking to see if there are reasonable ways to reduce risks of harm to the environment.”

Legislation is expected this spring despite opposition from the Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) and CropLife Canada, which represents pesticide makers.

Asked if a Progressive Conservative government would repeal a ban, Pallister said he wanted to see the legislation first before commenting.

“The government has only given us general comment at this stage so it puts us in a difficult position because we can’t respond with detail,” he said. “But if they’re going to a radical environmental approach then we’re going to be opposing it.”

Last week KAP president Doug Chorney said banning cosmetic pesticides, even though deemed to be safe when used properly, is a slippery slope. Some people, he noted, are already asking if pesticides are too dangerous to apply to a lawn how can they be safe on food?

“It would open the door (to restricting farm pesticides),” Chorney said. “If they (Manitoba government) ignore the federal Health Canada, PMRA (Pest Management Regulatory Agency) protocols for registering products and using them what’s to make them acknowledge and respect those other uses of those products?”

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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