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A Pox on Pesticides

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The Los Angeles Unified School District has taken a progressive stance on chemicals and schoolchildren safety

The Los Angeles Unified School District has taken a progressive stance on chemicals and schoolchildren safety. Operating the largest US public school system, the city of Los Angeles vowed last year not to use pesticides for esthetic reasons alone. Instead, it considers non-chemical methods first with the goal of eventually eliminating all chemical controls.

Here in Canada, a federal private members bill intending to ban cosmetic pesticide use has not gained ground with the Landscape Alberta Nursery Trades Association (LANTA). While Bill C-388 recognizes the vulnerability of certain groups especially children to pesticide exposure, in a recent communication with its members, LANTA executive director Nigel Bowles called it "unreasonable" and said the bill makes "broad claims" about the serious health consequences of pesticides.

Nevertheless, the federal government has decided that the current pesticide regulatory process needs revision. In its controversial May report, the same Commons environmental committee that criticized cosmetic pesticide use also proposed mandatory screening of the 7,000 pesticides now in use. They further called for an outright ban on those pesticides known or strongly suspected of endangering health or environment. A tougher update of Canada's 31-year-old pesticide act is expected to be tabled in the Commons this month.

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