Lawn-care group offended by minister’s claim

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Andrew Robinson
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Landscape N.L. says Hedderson’s comments ‘slap in the face’ to industry and government

Transportation and Works Minister Tom Hedderson speaks with reporters Thursday at the Confederation Building. — Photo by Andrew Robinson/The Telegram

A group representing the provincial landscaping industry is reacting strongly to comments made earlier this week by Transportation and Works Minister Tom Hedderson concerning the reasons the provincial government banned the cosmetic use of certain pesticides.

“It’s a slap in the face to people within the industry — the professionals in the industry,” said Boyd Loveless, chairman for lawn-care professionals on Landscape Newfoundland and Labrador’s board of directors.

According to a story published by VOCM, Hedderson said Wednesday that a ban on the use of certain pesticides for cosmetic lawn care purposes was not implemented this year for health reasons. Instead, he said it was because spraying was overused improperly and that its use was getting out of hand.

Loveless, who operates the company Nutri-Lawn out of Torbay, said lawn-care professionals receive training through the Department of Environment and Conservation and are required to study materials and write an exam.

“They’re trained by (Hedderson’s) colleagues, so basically it’s a slap in the face to us and a slap in the face to them, because if the products weren’t banned for health reasons, why then was it banned?”

 

The issue of pesticide use became news again within the last week over the use of Tordon 101 along provincial highways to control vegetation in areas where brush cutting has taken place to improve visibility and reduce moose-vehicle collisions.

Tordon 101 contains the active ingredient 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid), one of five pesticides banned for cosmetic use in the province.

Exceptions have been made for what government calls non-cosmetic use, including golf courses, agriculture and forestry use, and road and infrastructure maintenance.

Speaking with reporters Thursday at the Confederation Building, Hedderson said he has nothing but the utmost respect for the professionals who have worked with such products in Newfoundland and Labrador, including those who currently apply Tordon 101 along the highways.

“As a minister, I’ve got a great level of comfort, because these same professionals work for my department in carrying out the spraying program, and I have all the faith in the world (in) what they are doing,” said Hedderson. “They know what they’re doing, they know how to do it and they’re doing it very successfully.”

Unnecessary use

Hedderson went on to say that while the use of Tordon 101 along provincial highways helps make them safer for motorists, spraying lawns with pesticides such as 2,4-D is not something he considers to be a “necessary use” when the intention is to simply have “a nice looking lawn.”

He added if such a product is used incorrectly and manages to find its way into sensitive areas, such as bodies of water, that can have a negative impact.

“We’re doing it all in the interest, again, of good health and safety,” said the minister.

Karen Linfield, manager of pesticides control with the Department of Environment and Conservation, said Tordon 101 has always been a commercial product and has never been made available to the public for residential use.

“When we allow these programs to be conducted, we only permit people who have written and passed an examination. They’re certified, and companies who have a certain level of responsibility — these companies have to carry a certain amount of insurance, (and) they provide quite a number of pieces of information to us before we allow our program to be undertaken.”

Loveless believes the decision to implement the lawn-care ban was a political one.

He notes that the product has Health Canada approv­al.

“We’ve got local politicians, provincial politicians, making decisions based on what — political science or real science?”

If the government’s concern with the use of the banned pesticides was not health related, Loveless suggests it should have consulted with the industry and taken an integrated pest management approach whereby products would only be applied when necessary.

“They should have consulted with the professionals that are trained to apply these products and follow the Health Canada regulations,” he said.

While Loveless said it is possible the minister may have only meant to target the improper application of pesticides by homeowners in his statement to VOCM, he added if that was the case, the government should have simply removed the product from store shelves instead of issuing an outright ban.

“They’ve attacked a small industry within Newfoundland and Labrador. They’ve put employees’ lives in jeopardy. Personally, if I thought I was going to harm any one of my four children, I wouldn’t be using it.”

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TeleAndrew

 

Organizations: Department of Environment and Conservation, Confederation Building, Health Canada

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Torbay

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Recent comments

  • Jennifer King
    August 12, 2012 - 17:09

    Black Market?? So now Mr. Boyd we are talking about people who abide by the law vs. those who don't. I think that is a whole different conversation. grasping at straws are we?

    • Boyd
      August 19, 2012 - 14:38

      Ms king not grasping at anything. Just stating whats happening. None of us want to see this

  • Hatescrap
    August 12, 2012 - 01:36

    Mr. Boyd claims he is not misinformed. In his response to Dr. K. Jean Cottam he suspects she grows her own vegetables. This contributor buys some of her vegetables from her supermarket, which carries organic vegetables, and some from an organic Quebec farmer. My backyard has a northern exposure and is not suited to growing vegetables. What makes Cottam an expert? Studying the effect of pesticides and writing about them. Why shouldn't Health Canada exist? There is a need in Canada for having such a ministry. My best friend, now retired, was a director at Health Canada. Besides we are talking about a single agency of Health Canada, the PMRA (Pest Management Regulatory Agency), rather than Health Canada as a whole. Cottam was not making accusations, she was stating the facts--how pesticides are approved by the PMRA. How can you say there wasn't a single pesticide poisoning in Canada? How do you know? Have you monitored the situation? I am sure this is just wishful thinking on your part.

    • Boyd
      August 19, 2012 - 14:43

      Not wishful thinking. For years we watched people/groups talk about pesticide poisonings and related it to lawn care. Not once have these people or groups showed me one poisoning by lawn care. The facts are out there and its not wishful thinking on My part. Writer, I challenged you to show me one

  • K. Jean Cottam, PhD
    August 11, 2012 - 21:25

    Duffy, how can you say that Agent Orange is safe? What about the horrible toll it has exacted and is still exacting in Viet Nam? New York Times is reporting that recently the United States offered to pay a modest sum for cleaning up some of the still toxic sites in Viet Nam, where horribly disfigured children continue to be born. Agent Orange consisted of herbicides 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T and each of them had its own dioxin. 2,4,5-T was banned in North America in mid-eighties.2,4-D is still widely used on lawns and in agriculture. Dioxins are highly toxic chemicals formed during the processing of these herbicides in the reactor. They are often also associated with toxic industrial sites. However, the industry fails to supply Health Canada with information about the dioxin attributed to 2,4-D, 2,7-DCDD. (The dioxin associated with 2,4,5-T was the infamous and extremely powerful dioxin 2,3,7,8-TCDD; information about this dioxin is also withheld from Health Canada.)

  • Hatescrap
    August 11, 2012 - 11:27

    Mr. Boyd claims he is not misinformed. In his response to Dr. K. Jean Cottam he suspects she grows her own vegetables. This contributor buys some of her vegetables from her supermarket, which carries organic vegetables, and some from an organic Quebec farmer. My backyard has a northern exposure and is not suited to growing vegetables. What makes Cottam an expert? Studying the effect of pesticides and writing about them. Why shouldn't Health Canada exist? There is a need in Canada for having such a ministry. My best friend, now retired, was a director at Health Canada. Besides we are talking about a single agency of Health Canada, the PMRA (Pest Management Regulatory Agency), rather than Health Canada as a whole. Cottam was not making accusations, she was stating the facts--how pesticides are approved by the PMRA. How can you say there wasn't a single pesticide poisoning in Canada. How do you know? Have you monitored the situation? I am sure this is just wishful thinking on your part.

  • K. Jean Cottam, PhD
    August 11, 2012 - 00:21

    I very much dislike the fuss over our alleged "nanny state". I truly deplore this repugnant expression. Would you rather have an oppressive, murderous regime as as in Syria? I am listening to online discussions in US citizens' and scientists' chemical committees as an observer. The reason they don't have our pesticide bans in the U.S. is because their chemical industry is so tremendously powerful. It is EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) which regulates pesticides.They are limited in what they can do. Our claimate change is bringing about very dry conditions. How then pesticides are going to be washed into the soil? Anyway this would have the effect of contaminating our ground water in addition to poisoning the air! Pesticide promoters live in a never-never land. Their science on pesticides is clear--clear to whom? Elementary school drop-outs? What I am saying is this: so-called science of pesticide promoters has little to do with science. No other subject invites as much of ridiculous and uninformed opinion as discussion on pesticides. The so-called trained professionals are not so well trained after all. Their expertise is a convenient myth. Anyway, proper application of pesticides protects the applicator, but has nothing to do with the inherent toxicity of the product and its impact on third parties.

  • K. Jean Cottam, PhD
    August 10, 2012 - 22:53

    Duffy, how can you say that Agent Orange is safe? What about the horrible toll it has exacted and is still exacting in Viet Nam? New York Times is reporting that recently the United States offered to pay a modest sum for cleaning up some of the still toxic sites in Viet Nam, where horribly disfigured children continue to be born. Agent Orange consisted of herbicides 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T and each of them had its own dioxin. 2,4,5-T was banned in North America in mid-eighties.2,4-D is still widely used on lawns and in agriculture. Dioxins are highly toxic chemicals formed during the processing of these herbicides in the reactor. They are often also associated with toxic industrial sites. However, the industry fails to supply Health Canada with information about the dioxin attributed to 2,4-D, 2,7-DCDD. (The dioxin associated with 2,4,5-T was the infamous and extremely powerful dioxin 2,3,7,8-TCDD; data on this dioxin are also withheld from Health Canada.)

  • Boyd
    August 10, 2012 - 19:16

    Question - who currently enforces what your neighbours can bring in through the internet and spray on their lawns? Can you say Black Market

  • Hatescrap
    August 10, 2012 - 18:06

    I hate when people make a fuss over our alleged "nanny state". I truly deplore this expression from hell. Would they rather have an oppressive, murderous regime as as in Syria? I am listening to online discussions in US citizens' and scientists' chemical committees as an observer. The reason they don't have our pesticide bans in the U.S. is because their chemical industry is so tremendously powerful. It is EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) which regulates pesticides.They are limited in what they can do. Our claimate change is bringing about very dry conditions. How then pesticides are going to be washed into the soil? Anyway this would have the effect of contaminating our ground water in addition to poisoning the air! Pesticide promoters live in a never-never land. Their science on pesticides is clear--clear to whom? Elementary school drop-outs? What I am saying is this: so-called science of pesticide promoters has little to do with science. No other subject invites as much of ridiculous and uninformed opinion as discussion on pesticides. The so-called trained professionals are not so well trained after all. Their expertise is a convenient myth. Anyway, proper application of pesticides protects the applicator, but has nothing to do with the inherent toxicity of the product and its impact on third parties.

  • K. Jean Cottam, PhD
    August 10, 2012 - 14:32

    The product may have Health Canada's approval, but the approval process is problematic. I am retired federal public servant familiar with the Ottawa's pesticide approval process. Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) has no labs of its own and is fully dependent on the chemical industry for data to be evaluated. These are toxicological (rat) data, but rats have detoxification genes missing in humans. The PMRA is very weak in examining epidemiological (human) studies. Inconvenient studies may be withheld from the PMRA by the industry. The PMRA is paid over $8,000,000 by the industry for registering the approved pesticides. Industry spokesmen always claim that pesticide bans are political. I disagree; they are intended to protect the urban population against the harm caused by "second-hand pesticides", i.e. pesticides that penetrate neighbours' properties, and the bodies of their children's and pets, contaminating both their air and water. Mr. Boyd Loveless is poorly informed to think that children suffer no harm from exposure to pesticides.

    • Boyd
      August 10, 2012 - 19:08

      First of all, I am not misinformed. Secondly, I suspect that you grow all your own vegetables, never eat fruits from your supermarkets, etc. What makes you an expert? I rather say you're misinformed. Why does Health Canada exist based on your accusations? There hasn't been one related lawn care poisoning in Canada. Show mr your facts, you can't.

    • K. Jean Cottam, PhD
      August 12, 2012 - 01:25

      I should have indicated that the $8 million Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) receives from industry for registration of their pesticides is an annual payment. As to poisonings by pesticides, this cannot be always determined directly; however, we can draw conclusions upon the examination of pertinent cases. This is called epidemiology and the Ontario College of Family Physicians has just produced another important epidemiological study. It is not useful to rely on toxicology exclusively in this case as rats have detoxification genes missing in humans. Mr. Boyd, you ought to read this study. It is unbelievable that Minister Hedderson admitted Nfld's ban had nothing to do with health.

  • K. Jean Cottam
    August 10, 2012 - 14:09

    While I am unhappy that the highway is being sprayed and agree a way should have been found to cut the weeds using a machine of some kind, I think it is very wrong to suggest that Ontario ban was politically motivated. It definitely is an important health issue to be subjected to neighbours' toxic pesticides in the crowded urban environment and proves especially harmful to young children and pets. We oppose exposures to "second-hand smoke"--why not apply the same logic to exposures to "second-hand pesticides"? By the way, WILLIAM H. GATHERCOLE AND NORAH G are a group of elderly pesticide promoters who send their pornographic newsletters to prominent Canadians who disagree with their point of view. The newsletters contain images of partially naked young girls. This obviously has nothing to do with the issue of cosmetic use of pesticides.

  • Jennifer
    August 10, 2012 - 13:28

    I am so happy the 2,4-D has been banned for residential use, unfortunately a little to late for our family dog. Any amount of research will show how terrible the chemical is. The fact that these lawn care companies were allowed to spray on one persons lawn and give written warning to their neighbours, was just wrong. Why should one persons worry about weeds affect the people and animials around them.

    • Ben
      November 23, 2012 - 09:31

      Proof. You know that little thing that shows you are correct. What proof do you have that shows your dog was killed by 2,4-D

  • wtf
    August 10, 2012 - 12:05

    I don't see how anyone can compare a ban on herbicides for cosmetic use with herbicides being used to improve highway safety. It would be very slow and expensive process to repeatedly cut brush and plants from the sides of the highways.

  • Ballyclatters
    August 10, 2012 - 09:53

    I hate the ban. The organic herbicides don't work worth a tinker's dam. It took 10 years to drive the Queen Anne's lace out of my lawns, then 5 years of maintenance which kept it out. Now it's coming back with a host of friends. I used a government-approved product, Killex, according to the instructions (properly). This was a ban based on pandering for votes, not science.

    • Jody
      August 10, 2012 - 12:19

      Queen Anne's lace is beautiful! Are you nuts? I suppose you kill lupins too? If everyone saw the beauty in wildflowers as I do, perhaps this world would be a happier place, and the comment section wouldn't be so nasty and negative. Have a lovely sunny day!

  • Don II
    August 10, 2012 - 09:14

    By his own admission, Minister Hedderson confirmed that the pesticide ban was not imposed for public health protection reasons. Who stands to gain financially from the pesticide ban? What is the real motivation for Government involvement in this matter? The exemptions to the pesticide ban includes golf courses, agriculture, forestry and roads which are all areas where the Government of Newfoundland has expended large amounts of tax payers money. Meanwhile, private property owners cannot maintain the quality of the lawns and vegetation around their homes and businesses by Government edict. Regrettably, the deep secrecy practiced by the Government of the People's Republic of Newfoundland and Labrador makes it impossible for the public and media to ever know the real reasons behind the Government decision to ban certain pesticides. It appears that the Government of Newfoundland is lobbied heavily behind the scenes and decisions are made behind closed doors to advance the agenda of somebody with direct access to Ministers of the Crown and their subordinates in the bureaucracy.

  • dee gee
    August 10, 2012 - 09:03

    Did Tom say that this chemical had no more effect on you then salt ? Then if he did the next time he has his dinner than sprinkle a little tordon 101 on it .

  • From Northern Pen
    August 10, 2012 - 08:26

    I agree with the ban. One can have a nice lawn without using an abundance of pesticides. But it is somewhat of a oxi-moron when government still allows it to be used for what they feel is necessary. Yes it is important to keep the brush away from the sides of roads, but there are alternatives to that as well Tom. Start a regular, ongoing program of brush control by cutting with large machines and manual labour rather than allowing it to get out of control. Oh and for sure it is okay to use if it means keeping golf courses in great shape!!

  • M
    August 10, 2012 - 08:18

    Loveless has summarized it perfectly.......political science versus actual science. The pesticides used were safe if applied properly. Let's think about it for one second. These products are used in the United States, the most litigious society on the earth, year round. There grass and weeds grow all year and require multiple treatments. Yet their governments and the FDA have not banned them. In our neck of the world, where the grass and weeds grow for about 4 months of the year and one treatment a year is sufficient, they are banned!!!! Did I mention that we normally have the most rainfall in the summer months in all of North America which washes the product into the soil. The science on this product is clear.....it will not cause any damage when used properly. The nanny science is also clear.....Greg Malone and Sheila O'Leary told me these are bad so we have to ban them. I can hear them now 'Will somebody please think of the children!!'. Unfortunately our provincial government has developed the spine of a jellyfish and has been giving in to these vocal morons instead of standing up to them and standing with science. I hope this new debate causes the provincial government to lift this silly ban and allow companies with trained professionals sell this service to homeowners.

    • K. Jean Cottam, PhD
      August 11, 2012 - 08:17

      As a retired federal public servant who has spent many hours researching information about the key pesticides, I object to calling the process political. Pesticide promoters have no monopoly on determining what is political science and what pertains to health. FDA doesn't ban pesticides--the commentator confused it with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). To suggest that pesticides cause no damage when used properly is misleading as the applied pesticide is harmful to innocent by-standers. We are supposedly living in a democracy where the government is supposed to protect the health of all of its citizens--we do not live in a nasty dictatorship. It takes a moron to identify other morons and there are plenty of them writing comments in Canadian newspapers. The word "trained professionals" frequently used by pesticide promoters is meaningless. Many of them are no so-well trained. In fact, I have seen some of them applying the toxic PAR III without protective glasses, in short-sleeve shirts and without protective footwear. A woman once told me that her husband, a professional pesticide applicator, once swallowed some herbicide 2,4-D to prove it was safe--he died soon afterwards. In fact, the role of pesticide bans is to protect innocent by-standers against the harm caused by "second-hand pesticides", similarly to our protection of non-smokers against "second-hand smoke."

  • Duffy
    August 10, 2012 - 08:01

    1966 = Agent Orange is Safe and you need not worry about any health issues. Forward to 2012 = this herbicide although banned for use on lawns is all right for roadside use and you do not need to worry about any health issues. Wonder why we have no faith in the Political System ? I would suggest we believe NOTHING they say.

    • K. Jean Cottam, PhD
      August 11, 2012 - 00:10

      Suggesting that pesticide promoters have a monopoly on producing accurate science and the opposition to the use of cosmetic pesticides is political is utter self-interested nonsense. Pesticide promoters usually know next to nothing about genuine science.

  • WILLIAM H. GATHERCOLE AND NORAH G
    August 10, 2012 - 07:49

    PESTICIDE BANS LEAD TO CATASTROPHIC CARNAGE FOR BUSINESSES OPERATING IN THE PROFESSIONAL LAWN CARE INDUSTRY ... ● Professional Lawn Care businesses STOP DISAPPEAR INTO OBLIVION AT A RATE OF ONE-COMPANY-PER-WEEK ● TENS OF THOUSANDS OF WORKERS in the Professional Lawn Care Industry are UNEMPLOYED ● Lawns in entire neighborhoods ARE RUINED BY PESTS ● DANDELIONS ARE THE DOMINANT GROUND cover that makes provinces like Ontario look like a GARBAGE DUMP ● Pesticide-free lawn maintenance is STUNNINGLY EXPENSIVE and DOES NOT WORK. http://wp.me/P1jq40-26P Besides, PESTICIDE BANS ARE A FARCE. Residents are obtaining products either from other provinces, or mostly from across the border in the United States. It is NOT illegal to own or possess these products, only to apply them. The mis-use of products remains ― thanks to PROHIBITION. In Eastern Canada, no jurisdiction has EVER enforced PROHIBITION by going after residents. WILLIAM H. GATHERCOLE AND NORAH G http://wp.me/p1jq40-4mS http://pesticidetruths.com/