WEB ONLY: OFA: province’s ignoring of science, new rules may cause harm

Agricultural and landscaping groups, along with Canada’s plant science indus­try, are disappointed with the Ontario government’s regula­tions banning the sale and use of pesticides for lawns and gardens.

They say the government has failed to develop a solid, scientific foundation for the new regulations and warn the decision will have negative impacts.

"Ontario farmers are disap­pointed that these regulations are not science-based," said Bette Jean Crews, president of Ontario Federation of Agricul­ture. "The government is dis­cour­aging innovation with these regulations and that jeo­par­dizes the ability of farmers to continue to produce a safe and affordable supply of heal­thy foods. Without access to the newest pest control innova­tions, Ontario farmers will soon find they are at a competitive disadvantage."

Paul Wettlaufer, a farmer and vice-chairman of

Agricultural Groups Con­cern­ed about Resources and the Environment (AG­Care), agreed with her.

“These regulations send a negative – and inaccurate – mes­sage to the public about the adequacy of the federal regu­latory system and at the same time increases the risk of Ontario farms being exposed to pest infestations from non-agricultural land," he said.

Tony DiGiovanni, execu­tive director of Landscape Ontario, also cited the negative effects he expects from the Liberal government’s decision.

"These regulations will have a negative impact on On­tario’s 20,000 lawn care pro­fessionals and Ontarians are soon going to notice the lack of effective options available to control fungus on their roses, insects such as grubs in their lawns, or weeds taking over their patios and turf," he said.

Lorne Hepworth, president of CropLife Canada, added, "The Ontario government has created an environment of un­certainty that makes it unlikely Canada will be seen as a place to invest as newer and more effective pest control products are made available in other countries,” he said

"The consequences of these irrational decisions won’t be felt immediately, but one day Ontarians will realize that the products this government is banning provided safe and ef­fec­tive ways of dealing with pest problems that are detri­mental to human health and safety, and which cause land­scape and structural losses that have real and significant finan­cial costs."

In Canada, all pesticides, whether they are intended for agricultural, lawn and garden, golf, forestry, or structural pest control, must meet high stand­ards set by Health Canada be­fore they are approved for sale and use.

Under that regulatory sys­tem, Canadians have access to pesticides that can be safely used and which are proven to be effective at dealing with pests that can create a myriad of problems.

The four associations repre­sent more than 40,000 Ontario farm families, 20,000 lawn care professionals, and nursery operations in Ontario, and the manufacturers, developers and distributors of Canada’s $1.4-billion pest control products industry.