I would like an opportunity to respond to a letter to the editor which appeared in the Aug. 17 edition of The Telegram headlined “Government is sending a mixed message.” The president of CropLife Canada, Lorne Hepworth, stated that, “it simply isn’t logical for the province to ban these products from homeowners who rely on them to control pest infestations on their personal property while at the same time allowing its own staff to use them to control vegetation along roadways.”
When we instituted a restriction on certain products for application on lawns in Newfoundland and Labrador, effective this lawn-care season, we did so in an effort to reduce the unnecessary use of pesticides in the province. As a government, we listened to the concerns raised by many individuals and groups in the province concerning the cosmetic use of pesticides for lawn-care purposes and considered the need to address the manner in which pesticides were being used in an urban setting. Following years of working with the expertise of the industry and the public advocating for alternative methods of pest management to be used, the provincial government determined that the only way to achieve the desired objective of reducing unnecessary pesticide use was to prohibit the use of the most common products used by and on behalf of homeowners.
It was acknowledged at the time, however, that there are essential uses of pesticides. The control of vegetation along our road networks using approved products is necessary in the province for health and safety reasons. In all provinces of Canada that have set similar residential pesticide restrictions, roadside brush and alder control is still considered a necessary use of a pesticide. It is within this context that, as Mr. Hepworth stated, we rely on the federal registration process to ensure a rigorous scientific review of such products. We accept that this process ensures that pesticides can be used without causing undue harm to people or the environment.
I would like to further emphasize that when we authorize pesticide uses for health or safety reasons, in cases such as roadside vegetation control or pest infestations, we do so in a controlled setting with a number of restrictions in place, often exceeding the stated requirements for their application. At the end of the day, our message is clear — there are circumstances under which the application of pesticides is necessary and we do so in a safe and controlled manner, ensuring the health and safety of the people of our province is at the forefront.
Minister of Environment and Conservation