March 10, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 83  

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London looks to curb
pesticide use; bugs rejoice

By Allison Buchan-Terrell
Gazette Staff

This Monday, London city council voted 15-4 in favour of developing a pesticide bylaw.

The Pesticide Steering Committee pushed the implementation of the bylaw, which rests on the Integrated Pest Management program.

Michael Stevenson, manager of Great Lakes Lawn Care, said that prior to the IPM program pesticides were applied in blanket applications. But under the proposed bylaw, which would be similar to Landscape Ontario regulations which licenses pesticide companies, pesticides would only be applied to a specific weed when needed. He added they would only be used when weeds or bugs are damaging the lawn.

Richard Yake, co-chair of the London Coalition Against Pesticides, explained that pesticides contribute to cancer and genetic malfunctions, which he said industry people were attempting to disprove. “This would save a lot of lawsuits [for the industry] if they got through the IPM,” Yake said.

“[There is] no point in implementing bylaws if it is not something we can enforce,” said Bud Polhill, a member of the London Board of Control who voted against the bylaw.

Stevenson pointed to a municipality in Quebec where a similar bylaw was passed, noting that products were bought from outside the area — with stores selling out — and applied in large quantities by citizens who knew little about pesticides.

A professor at Western who specializes in environmental pollutants and who wished to remain annonymous, said “media paints pesticides as a negative thing,” noting that pesticide companies have come a long way in making pesticides safer.

The professor emphasized the relative risk pesticides pose is small compared to household cleansers. “Ask the organizations what basis they have [for negative feelings towards pesticides] other than gut feelings.”

Yake explained his organization’s concern is that if the industry is allowed to regulate itself, it will manipulate what constitutes an infestation to their advantage. This would equal more pesticide use, he added.

“There are strict guidelines to follow in order to be an IPM company,” Stevenson said, adding his company employs licensed and trained technicians.

“[Canada is] not testing our own pesticides anymore — we rely on information from the industry,” Yake said, explaining that this clearly leads to a bias.

Polhill explained the bylaw is in the hands of staff at the moment and it will be a month or so before anything happens. “I need to see the results of the court cases, then we can tailor our bylaws accordingly,” he said.



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