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Canada Needs Modernized, Evidence-Based Pesticides Assessment

The Trudeau Liberals have promised to amend pesticides legislation, but some immediate changes now could help to improve pesticide assessment. The Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) within Health Canada has responsibility to assess and regulate pesticides in Canada. Over the years PCN has made numerous submissions and interventions highlighting:

  • inadequate scientific review, that omits peer-reviewed literature in favour of confidential industry-submitted studies in a preferred format;
  • substantial data gaps that should preclude findings of “acceptable risk” (this is the legal standard for pesticides according to the Pest Control Products Act);
  • increased maximum residue limits for glyphosate in foods;
  • extended timeline of three years to eliminate sales and use of products that are being banned (PCN and Safe Food Matters, represented by Ecojustice, are challenging this extended timeline court).

It is a policy decision, not a legislative requirement that the PMRA must favour industry-sponsored confidential studies over Canadian and international scientist’ independent, peer-reviewed scientific research. There is no legal requirement to register pesticides to be sold and used in spite of strong scientific evidence to the contrary, nor to maintain markets for toxic products for years, while delaying protection of human and environmental health.

We can have beautiful landscapes and protect pollinators without toxic pesticides. They have been banned in Ontario and other Canadian jurisdictions for well over a decade, and lawns and gardens are maintained using safer alternative practices and products.

Organic, regenerative agriculture is important to maintain soil health, absorb carbon dioxide, maintain vegetative cover in the face of floods and to produce food in the face of more severe weather.

Herbicide use in forestry removes water-retaining, species that also provide food for wildlife, and promotes soil loss with heat and heavy rains. The economic argument for monoculture conifer plantations has literally gone up in smoke over recent summers. It is time to follow Quebec’s example, and ban herbicides from forestry, across the Canada.

If you agree, please share your views with the PMRA, your Member of Parliament, The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, and The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada