London looks to curb
pesticide use; bugs rejoice
By Allison Buchan-Terrell
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
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.