The battle over green expanses of grass has been heating up for some years, sometimes even pitting spouse against spouse, let alone environmental groups versus chemical advocates.
What's at stake? The health of our children and pets, as well as quality of our streams, lakes and water supplies. The Harvard School of Public Health recently found that people reporting exposure to pesticides had a 70 percent higher incidence of Parkinson's disease than those not reporting exposure.
In 2001, Canada's Supreme Court ruled that the nation's communities can restrict cosmetic pesticide use on private as well as public property. But on Earth Day this year, the government of the province of Ontario took this a step further and introduced legislation banning the use and sale of pesticides for cosmetic purposes, taking aim at more than 70 chemicals found in 300 products, reports the Vancouver Sun.
If it passes the law would take effect next spring. The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, the David Suzuki Foundation and the Canadian Cancer society have been pressing for the ban. As would be expected, pesticide makers have opposed the initiative.
Under the proposed law, farmers and forestry operations would be exempt, and golf courses would still be permitted to use pesticides so long as they submit a management plan. Public health officials would still be able to use chemicals deemed needed to confront mosquito-borne diseases.
Regulators are still developing the list of pesticides that would explicitly be banned, and are seeking input. According to the Sun, retailers are cooperating and are already taking steps to replace likely candidates with alternatives.
Will this type of forward-thinking legislation make it south of the border? It's unlikely in the immediate future, given strong opposition by the chemical lobby in the U.S. and the fact that all but nine states now have laws that prevent local governments from passing residential bans on pesticides. It's going to be an uphill fight, but it will be very telling to see how things go up in Ontario.
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