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Passionate About Pesticides

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Spring, nature's rebirth, is my favourite time of year. As each week goes by, the trees and flowers come to life and renewed energy surges. My garden starts calling for attention, and frequent visits to the local garden shop fill the beds and pots with tomatoes, herbs and argula.

Spring, nature's rebirth, is my favourite time of year. As each week goes by, the trees and flowers come to life and renewed energy surges. My garden starts calling for attention, and frequent visits to the local garden shop fill the beds and pots with tomatoes, herbs and argula.

While standing in the cashier lineups, I'm always disappointed so many people are still buying toxic pesticides. The law requires that, with each pesticide purchase, a salesperson explains the dangers of the substance and how to safely handle and store the product. Side-effects are many: cancer, birth defects and death among them. Pesticide opponents have been lobbying governments for years and, finally, many officials are listening.

Sixty Canadian cities have banned cosmetic lawn pesticides. Quebec's minister of the environment has recommended regulations to reduce pesticide use throughout the province. According to the Pesticide Action Network Update Service, "The new code would ban a number of pesticides for non-agricultural uses including the herbicide 2,4-D and has come under sharp criticism by a group of 2,4-D manufacturers in the United States who have threatened to sue the Quebec government under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

US companies that produce 2,4-D have vowed to force Quebec to prove 2,4-D causes cancer. More than 58 million pounds of 2,4-D are used in the US alone. Our big American brother does not want Canada making laws banning the use of something he wants to export to Canada. Thankfully, Quebec's environment minister is more concerned with the health of citizens than
perfect lawns.

Toxic Pesticide Facts

  1. Children receive up to 35 percent of their lifetime dose of cancer-causing pesticides by the age of five.
  2. Trace amounts of 17 pesticides were found in the top baby foods sold in the US.
  3. Xenoestrogens, harmful estrogen-like mimickers linked to cancer, are found in pesticide- and herbicide-sprayed foods.
  4. Produce grown commercially with pesticides contains high levels of toxic heavy metals, especially cadmium and arsenic, and is lower in the nutrients potassium, selenium, zinc, chromium, calcium, magnesium, iodine and iron.
  5. Toxic agents in our environment cause 80 percent of all cancers.
  6. Manitoba farmers have been found to have pesticide residue in their sperm, which compromises fertility.
  7. Cows fed pesticide-sprayed grain produce a more acidic environment favourable to the development of E. coli. Cows allowed to graze and eat hay generate less than one per cent of the E. coli compared to grain-fed cows.
  8. Farmed fish have higher levels of PCBs (10 times), organochlorine pesticides, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers than wild fish.
  9. One-third of all salmon eaten in the US and half of all shrimp and
    almost all the trout are farmed.

Spring Into Action!

April, May and June are the biggest months for pesticide sales. Let's become passionate about eliminating pesticides now. Three good anti-pesticide coalitions to support are panna.org, cap-quebec.com and hans.org. Write letters to your local government officials, starting with your objection to the federal government's plan to "protect" us from the West Nile virus by spraying with pesticides.

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