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80 Percent of Canadians Protected by Pesticide Laws

U.S. Lags Far Behind in Pesticide Protection

Researchers Propose GMOs for 2,4-D Resistant Plants

The number of Canadian municipal pesticide laws has grown steadily since 1991 when Hudson, Quebec, led the way.

In May of this year 20 years will have passed since Hudson, Quebec, became the first community in North America to ban synthetic lawn and garden pesticides. With the passage of a bylaw banning certain lawn and garden pesticides in the town of Oak Bay, British Columbia, earlier this month, the total number of municipal pesticide bylaws in Canada has reached 172.

That means 80 percent of the Canadian population now lives under the auspices of bans of products like weed ‘n feed and Roundup. That begs the question even more loudly: When will the United States begin to catch up?

Meanwhile, the proof of the factors in why we should ban these products continues to stack up from scientific sources. Here are just a few of the reasons to not use the weed killer known as Roundup, for example:

HUMAN HEALTH — The product can cause an increase in human disease due to the way Roundup causes restriction of nutrients such as calcium (which affects bone density), iron (blood), manganese, zinc (liver, kidney) and copper, magnesium (brain). Tests show an “inert” ingredient in Roundup, polyethoxylated tallowamine, or POEA, kills human cells. Traces of Roundup found on corn and soybeans, among other crops, can cause cell damage in humans.

PLANT HEALTH — Roundup increases plant stress and disease due to its interaction with biology in the soil. In some cases, the plant toxicity can have residual negative impacts on animals and humans.

NUTRIENT REDUCTION — Widespread use of the product reduces the nutrient value of food because the Roundup binds and inhibits the movement of essential micronutrients.

MUTANT WEEDS — After nearly four decades of use, many areas of the country are seeing an increase in new species of weeds resistant to Roundup.

PESTICIDE RELIANCE — Since the introduction of “Roundup Ready” genetically modified plants in 1996, use of Roundup has increased exponentially. Uses of other pesticides have also increased due to additional weed, insect and disease pressure caused by over reliance on Roundup.

YIELD REDUCTION — Farmers generally see a significant decrease in the yields of fields after the first two years using Roundup.

SPECIES REDUCTION — Roundup causes the destruction of important soil flora, plants that are important in nitrogen fixation, mineralization, and other soil fertility processes.

WATER QUALITY — Roundup causes increased leaching of phosphorus and other nutrients into waterways.

ADDITIONAL GMOS — As more and more weeds mutate and become resistant to Roundup, the pesticide industry races to develop more genetically modified plants. News out of the University of Missouri this week states that researchers there plan to genetically modify plants to resist the herbicide 2,4-D, a product that has been show in peer-reviewed scientific journals to increase the likelihood of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, endocrine disruption, reproductive and developmental effects, as well as water contamination and toxicity to aquatic organisms.

IT’S THAT LAST POINT THAT IS PERHAPS MOST DISTURBING. Rather than take the rational approach and get the dangerous stuff off the market, as the folks in Canada have been systematically doing in the past 20 years, Americans just race to fix one problem by replacing it with a potentially larger problem. The view, clearly, is that “science will cure all ills” when a heavy dose of common sense would clearly be the best path.

The good news to report is that the Canadian example is not being wholly ignored. Bills in at least two states are following the lead set by New York last year with its Child Safe Playing Field Act. We’ll have more information on this issue in the coming days.

Meanwhile, take a look at the chart above and ask yourself how you can help the United States one day be in the same position as Canada. Lord knows if they can do it, we can to.

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.

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