British Columbia

In 2003, BC passed North America’s first IPM legislation to regulate the sale, use and handling of pesticides under the Integrated Pest Management Act 2003 (IPM Act) and Regulation 604/2004. The legislation did not have the beneficial effect hoped for by the public since the chemical landscape industry used the IPM approach as a means to justify pesticide use as part of “normal” lawn and garden care.

In early 2010, the B.C. Ministry of Environment consulted the public on “new statutory protections to further safeguard our environment from cosmetic chemical pesticides.” They received more than 8,000 submissions (including petition signatures), the vast majority of which were in support of cosmetic pesticide legislation.

In February 2013, the B.C. government introduced Bill 8 which will require licences for everyone using pesticides on lawns and gardens. There is no mention of a future phase-out of pesticides. Although the government claims that its proposed legislation will enhance public safety, the practical implication is that professional pesticide applicators will be able to spray weed-killers and insecticides on private residential properties with impunity.

“Scientific research done by family physicians shows that people exposed to pesticides are at greater risk for brain, prostate, kidney, and pancreatic cancers. Scientific data also shows that pesticide use is linked to neurological diseases such as Alzheimer and Parkinson’s. Women exposed to high levels of pesticides during pregnancy are more likely to have a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and reduced IQ. Exposed children are at an increased risk for asthma and are more likely to contract leukemia. If pesticides are now implicated in the rise of these tragic childhood ailments, it should concern us all.

“B.C. should scrap this bill and instead legislate a true ban — one that would require both homeowners and lawn companies to use kid-friendly, non-toxic products. To bring that point home, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and its partners are launching a province-wide advertising campaign this week. The ads feature the names of over 100 doctors and nurses who support strong pesticide prohibition.

“If we want to protect our kids — not to mention our lakes, drinking water, and beloved family pets — we need to listen to our health professionals. And the latter are saying with one firm and credible voice: ban the use and sale of lawn pesticides across BC.
“The only way to protect British Columbians is to reduce synthetic lawn pesticide usage to zero.” (Gideon Forman, Huffpost British Columbia, March 2013)

In July 2016 amendments to the regulation came into effect which sought to ensure that :

  • Pesticides will be used by people with knowledge and training;
  • Pesticides will be used as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) process; and
  • public interaction with pesticide vendors at the point of sale will increase ie . Licensed vendors are now required to display most pesticides in a way that restricts access by customers, for example, behind a counter or in a locked cabinet.

The Cancer Society told the Special Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides in November 2011, IPM should not be part of BC’s ban legislation because:

  • IPM sounds reasonable, but in practice does not work as its principles are vague and open to interpretation.
  • IPM cannot be considered an appropriate part of a comprehensive ban to eliminate cosmetic pesticide use, because IPM still uses pesticides.
  • IPM does not eliminate cosmetic pesticide use, nor does it offer optimal health protection.
  • Studies show that where IPM programs are in place, pesticide use actually increases.

The take home message is:

“At the present time, there are no cosmetic pesticide bans in British Columbia. In 2011, a special committee was formed in British Columbia to assess whether or not to amend their pest management legislation and regulation to incorporate a cosmetic pesticide ban. Despite over 70% of British Columbians being in favour of a cosmetic pesticide ban (Innovative Research, 2010), the Government opted to continue to implement a regime focused on integrated pest management principles. Despite the Government’s choice to not pursue a cosmetic pesticide ban, there are approximately 40 municipalities within British Colombia that currently have cosmetic pesticide bylaws.”

Note also that glyphosate is still used heavily in British Columbia in areas such as forestry, agriculture and railway lines.

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