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Scare Tactic: Green Industry Attempts Witch Hunt Lawsuit

In an effort to scare the bejeezus out of any would-be anti-pesticide activists, the lawn care industry has hired a public relations firm that is slapping punitive lawsuits on politicians and activists alike in Canada.

It’s hard to imagine how the lawsuits will stand — since the Supreme Court of Canada has already ruled that the little town of Hudson, Quebec, had the right to ban lawn pesticides. That town, of course, is featured in our movie, A Chemical Reaction.

But the lawn care industry has been successful grabbing headlines in Canada in the past week: The debate about the validity of these bans continues.

I’m just moments from going up on stage in Madison, Wisconsin at the Midwest Organic Lawn & Landscape Conference and my topic is Trends in Pesticide Legislation. Yesterday, during the first day of the conference, I was immediately confronted by the owner of a chemical lawn care franchise. He claimed that Roundup “has been tested since the cows came home” and is safe, and that 2,4-D just passed a new round of regulations at the EPA, so it was obviously fine, too.

The lesson here, obviously, is that the lawn care industry will never, ever, give up their pesticides without a major fight. Any and all tactics are fair game.

About The Author

Paul Tukey

An international leader of the green movement, Mr. Tukey is a journalist, author, filmmaker, TV host, activist and award-winning public speaker, who is widely recognized as North America's leading advocate for landscape sustainability and toxic pesticide reduction strategies.

Number of Entries : 1023
  • An Undeniable Truth

    Oh, so you want to talk about scare tactics huh. Well how about the one of the biggest scams ever perpetrated on the human species since Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth – the recent data manipulation and gross exageration on global warming by climate scientists discovered in Copenhagen, referred to as “Climategate”. The only thing getting warmer is the fudged data as these radical environmentalists cook the books!
    You may want to acquaint yourself with the story of Chicken Little who ran around ranting that the “sky is falling” because it pretty much describes the credibility of climate and environmental scientists these days. The data cuts both ways.

    • Paul Tukey

      If you read the so-called “Climategate” reports closely, you’ll find the whole thing was a big smokescreen attempted by people who just don’t want the world to believe that global warming is real.

      This whole argument, from my perspective, is about the Precautionary Principle. Is is really worth risking our children’s health and the planet’s future so that we can apply products to kill dandelions. The Canadian Supreme Court, and the vast majority of Canadians don’t think it’s worth the risk. Plain and simple.

    • Doug Rankin

      To An Undeniable Truth: You are grossly misinformed. Check your sources. Not Fox News. Not CNBC. Not the internet. In peer-reviewed science journals, ‘Climategate’ is what they call a ‘non-event’ – spun to make a story out of something that really had to do with internal politics, and not the legitimacy of climate science. Learn to follow-the-money, or you will be forever duped by big business. Honestly, if you put politics and fear aside, even a two year old can deduce that when you pee into a pool enough, that acid is going to increase and the pool is going to turn yellow. Now apply that thinking to the unprecedented inputs of carbon into a fixed and finite system, and the unprecedented increases of heat in our atmosphere and acid in our oceans. Then, ask yourself….is it coincidence that these increases in temperature and acidity coincide with the greatest human poplulation in history putting out the greatest amount of carbon in it’s history. If you think it’s coincidence, then you might as well continue to deny and deny til the day you die, cuz you aren’t interested in gettting at the truth, but rather playing politics and being a dupe for big business. And I am NOT opposed to business…I’m in business, before you even go down that road.

  • April Reeves

    Hi Paul, do you know the name of the PR firm in Canada? That is my industry and I would know who they are personally. I could probably talk them out of continuing the work.

    I was contacted by Canadian Tire yesterday after sending out a release. They have asked me for full contact information.

    We will be marching in Vancouver today at the Canadian Tire to protest the sales of these products, even though Vancouver has a bylaw. Will let you know what comes of it. We will probably continue to protest there through the Olympics, unless they comply with the bylaw.

    April Reeves

    • Paul Tukey

      The name of the person filing all the lawsuits in Canada against the government officials and activists is Jeffrey Lowes, Director of Government Relations for M-REP Communications

  • April Reeves

    Thanks Paul. Seems he is tight lipped right now. Scotts, possibly Monsanto and about 7 others are in on this. Not sure how this will go, but it won’t put a dent in our campaign. What a way to shoot yourself in the foot! The people will win this! All we have to do is quit buying into the ‘program’. Keep up your good work Paul!

  • Uncle Adolph

    Your name has been added to the list of activists April Reeves. Your campaign will fail, your arguments are based on lies. The misuse of the term Precautionary Principle won’t help. How can your group in one hand take donations from Canadian Tire for the Richmond Food Bank and Food Securities groups and then attack Canadian Tire for selling products that are legal, safe and effective.

    Uncle Adolph

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  • http://n/a Mary Brown

    Among the distinguished “culprits” is Jean Cottam, an activist from Ottawa. I understand that she was among those harassed by a man calling himself Uncle Adolph, who contributed a comment on this website. Some suspect that Uncle Adolph is in fact the man in the limelight, the industry spokesperson, Jeffrey Lowes. I understand that Lowes accused Jean Cottam of hiding the shameful fact that she is a medical doctor. I am told that in fact she is NOT a medical doctor but rather a retired federal intelligence analyst, currently an honorary observer on the U.S. Pesticide Working Group.

    • Paul Tukey

      K. Jean Cottam, PhD has posted comments to this blog; just yesterday in fact. She is certainly a force for good when it comes to elevating the dialogue about pesticides!

  • http://n/a Mary Brown

    Safelawns Daily Post and Q&A Blog of February 8, 2010 should not be talking prematurely about “lawsuits” in reference to the action announced last week on the part of the public relations firm representing some members of Ontario’s lawn care industry. Filing a lawsuit does not guarantee its success or even that it would be allowed to proceed. Uncle Adolph, a.k.a. Jeffrey Lowes, hardly an expert on toxic chemicals, claims that the chemicals are legal, safe and effective. No doubt they kill effectively; however, their legality in Ontario is dubious and their safety is unproven.

    • Jeffrey Lowes

      Can you please remove this post? “Uncle Adolph, a.k.a. Jeffrey Lowes”. I have never submitted any material to this blog. You also imply in the following post from Mr. Tukey that I am “Uncle Adolph” This is false and misleading. Please remove.

      • Paul Tukey

        Mr. Lowes,
        As you’ll see upon closer reading, it’s Mary Brown who believes that you and Uncle Adolph are one and the same person. We’ll let your response stand as your clarification.

        NOTE: This is the first time anyone named Jeffrey Lowes has posted to this blog using this email. The entries from “Uncle Adloph” have come to us from a different email address. We do not post email addresses as a matter of policy.

      • Nathaniel Mitchell

        Mr. Lowes,
        It’s laughable that you would not want to be associated with a low-life like Uncle Adloph. You may not be the same person, but you both advocate for the same deathly poisons. So what’s the difference?
        Nathaniel Mitchell, a proud Ontario organic lawn grower

        • Jeffrey Lowes

          Re: Nathaniel Mitchell’s Post

          I would suggest caution when attacking a person’s character directly in a public forum.

          Secondly you need to understand I have been tasked with recovering the reputations and lost revenues for professional applicators in the turf care industry.

          This no longer takes place in a council chamber or in the media.

          Third I only work on behalf of the applicators and not the manufactures of the products. Any claims made that I work for the chemical companies, (like on this forum) are false and misleading designed to question my integrity.

          We have designed four principles for the industry (professional applicators)

          • The products have to be registered by the PMRA
          • The products have to work
          • The products have to cost effective
          • The products and methods can not increase our environmental foot print

          As an industry we are indifferent on if the product is organic or synthetic as long as the product we are using meets our four principles. As an industry the door is open for anyone to bring new products to the table provided they meet the four principles. Our industry is always looking for new effective and efficient methods.

          As to my actions in respect to the activists and government officials behind the pesticide ban in Ontario, Canada: Individuals are currently being pursued under criminal and civil actions to recover economic losses.

          With this being an election year in Ontario, this will be a very public affair.

  • Uncle Adolph

    Who would like to be placed on the list? You would have a perfect opportunity to speak your truths in a real court of law.

    The Superior Courts decisions are not a cut and dry as you are presenting Paul Tukey. Quebec will be dealt with in due time.

    I personally cannot wait for the Documentary on the Documentary A Chemical Reaction.

    Uncle Adolph.

    • Paul Tukey

      Mr. Lowes,
      I hope you come to the screening of A Chemical Reaction in Ottawa on March 11. You’ll be able to express your views to the Supreme Court Judge who wrote the Hudson opinion and explain to her how she got it all wrong. That’s what I’d like to see.

  • justamom

    Uncle Adolf? An Undeniable Truth? Who are these people defending pesticides on lawns? I can virtually guarantee they are either pissed off lawn care monkeys, or they are being paid by the chemical pesticide industry. With all the safe alternatives in the marketplace, there is absolutely no justification for using pesticides. They’re dangerous. The label — which is the law — says so for Christ sakes. I’m actually disappointed, Paul, that you even allow these people’s comments to post on your blog. Can’t you just delete them?

    • Paul Tukey

      Well, Justamom, we could delete these types of comments from chemical industry proponents, but our Foundation allows them to post to show both sides of the debate. My personal opinion is that the ignorance and greed of the chemical industry shows through loudly and clearly when they do post here.

      • Uncle Adolph

        I would like to Thank you Paul for allowing my posts to remain on your blog site.
        You are doing a great job bringing attention to product safety and label information.

        My intention is hoping that people will begin to trust the Regulatory Agencies.

        The question regarding the Precautionary Principle has been addressed by the Minister of Health (Canada) in the link provided.

        Why did PMRA completely ignore the Precautionary Principle (PP)? [in recent re-evaluation decision on 2,4-D]

        How then is it possible for PMRA to ignore the PP in view of the Supreme Court’s ruling and the fact the Government of Canada is a signatory to the Rio Document that required Canada to adhere to the PP?

        The PMRA is supportive of the Precautionary Principle. Under both the existing and new PCPA, a pesticide can not be or remain registered for use in Canada unless any associated risks to health or the environment have been determined to be acceptable. Risks are acceptable if, on the basis of extensive scientific data, it has been determined that there is reasonable certainty that no harm to human health, future generations or the environment will result when the pesticide is used as directed. This standard of acceptability applies to both the pre-market evaluation of pesticides proposed for registration and the re-evaluation of registered pesticides for continued registration. It provides a high level of protection from risk of harm by addressing risks in general, not restricted to threats of “serious or irreversible damage”. The PMRA is now considering comments received after publishing the Proposed Acceptability for Continuing Registration document (PACR) 2005-01, before finalizing its decision on 2,4-D.

        It did look in your New Hampshire video that you were starting to focus on a homeowners ban only.

        I wish you well in your future Paul. I do hope that your organization can keep Safelawns moving in a positive direction and help bring forward an organic alternative that works well. If the product IronX works out that would be great news for all.

        I have been informed to discontinue any correspondence regarding opposition to Legally Registered, Safe and Effective Pesticides. I was told this direction may be linked to members of Mr. Jeffrey Lowes group.

        I would have liked to continue discussions and I will respect the intent of your reply.

        Uncle Adolph.

        • Paul Tukey

          Uncle Adolph,

          It’s not a matter of respecting the regulatory agencies; it’s understanding that 1) they do not have the funds or the manpower to do their jobs and 2) safe when used as directed only applies, at best, to the most conscientious of professional applicators. I personally have not yet met the homeowner who fully reads and/or comprehends the label on a pesticide package. The regulatory agencies also only deal in black and white, which is not reality. In the real world, Infinitesimally small doses of pesticides can have negative impacts on children, yet the regulatory agencies do not even consider this.

          When a child is given an asthma medication, the dosage is measured in parts per billion, which is a much smaller dosage than the pesticide he or she would breathe in on a lawn treated with pesticides. So if an asthma medication can impact a child at such a small dose, certainly a pesticide can also.

          In reference to my interview on New Hampshire public television . . . would I consider it a victory if the right to use lawn pesticides were taken away from homeowners and given only to licensed, trained applicators? Yes, I would consider that one hell of a good compromise. I think many pesticide applicators do not fully respect the danger of the products, but they respect them far more than homeowners.

          • Lynn

            I also don’t think most labels warn enough. The labels makes this stuff seem benign. It warns nothing of the proper things to wear or of the potential harm to children, pregnant women and health of everyone coming into contact with it. A pack of cigerette has more health warning.

            And shame on the pesticide/chemical industry for sueing people for free speech! Tyranny! It really shows the ruthlessness of such an selfish industry.

  • http://n/a Mary Brown

    Adhering to the label protects mainly the applicator. Lower manufacturing temperatures reduce the risk of dioxin contamination in the reactor; however, as a result efficiency of the manufacturing process is significantly diminished.

  • you find the answers

    I recall a few arguments I found on Youtube relating going “green” to Petro fuels, the arguments are very similar, the old way against a new ( maybe strange for some) way. I used to be all for chemicals just as every one of the “people with their opinion” are. My look at the world changing every day around us makes me wonder what sustainable means. We being humans(organic) are %70 water, Correct? That being my case exposing ourselves to so many different chemicals that have reverse effects on our health. its what is stated at the bottom of this page we are putting our lawns, and ornamentals before our health. Leukemia is the name of a cancer in which my own sister was diagnosed with, she is 25. I can’t relate her cancer with pesticides but Leukemia is a Petro-related disease over %80 of the time. Look at what were doing to each other and just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Just because your not sick remember that others are from these chemicals, and that is a fact*

    Just take it from my experiences

  • ugly lawn, safe lawn

    Hi, Paul,
    First, letting Uncle Adolph rant is the best thing for your site. It’s like having a eccentric uncle you let out of the closet periodically to say what’s on his mind and we all know enough to just nod and smile. Anyway, I’ve been organic for a long time time and it shows…my yard looks totally crappy next to my neighbors flourescent green lawns and it makes me very sad…won’t give up though…I was green way before it became popular. Years ago, I used a fungicide on my cherry tree and nearly killed my cat. That was the end for me…pretty much…though last year, I did buy a crabgrass killer as it had taken over my newley planted lawn…it still sits in my garage unopened. Now, I have nothing but huge gaps and bare spots….it ain’t easy being green.

    • Doug Rankin

      If you want a decent organic lawn, you can do it. We use a little lime from time to time, and some gypsum to neutralize our dog’s urine, and leave the clippings on the lawn. And of course our grass is well matched to our sun/shade mix, and soil. Totally organic, and it looks robust. There’s hope!

    • Lynn

      Same, we used Paul’s methods, reseeding and admending the soil. Didn’t work so great the first year, but the grass is growing very lush when we did it again in the spring and fall. Some small area’s still didn’t take as well. Maybe soil is too compact?

  • Mary

    I trusted the regulatory agencies to protect my son. They allowed our lawn around our condo to be sprayed repeatedly, 3 companies taking consecutive turns each week until I almost died. My child had reached his toxic limit about 2 months before I did. We lost our home our health and our wealth.Trust them, no way.
    It is a proven fact that those with vested interests pay to have results tainted, like Phillip Morris did with Methoprene and God knows what else!
    Some day the medical community will come together and speak out. Some, are already doing this and the word is out. You will have to find another vice with which to make your blood money. One child harmed is one too many. Like Mr Shabecoff said people who continue to attempt to fool the public to line their pockets are both stupid and greedy because they are hurting their own wives and children along with us.

  • Carolyn Spector Gillis

    It turns out that they are spraying on our 10 acres and I am moving permanently this week. they are threatening law suits. i am moving to calfornia.

  • Valentine Stelluti

    thankyou lots, I must comment that your website is amazing!

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  • John

    I have been treating lawns with organics for over 35 years. I have 800 very satisfied customers who can atest to the fact that organics work. The problem is 90% of the public feels that organics don’t work! For every hundred new customers that I sign up, 60 of them will cancel within only 1 year. That’s why it has taken me 35 years to achieve only 800 customers.

  • Paul Tukey

    You are obviously quite misinformed and we will not be posting your comment. Thank you, however, for visiting SafeLawns.

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