According to the Montreal Gazette, the threat of legal action from the giant U.S. pesticide industry has not impacted Quebec Environmental Minister Andre Boisclair's proposed ban of 28 pesticides on public and private land in the Canadian province. Major manufactures of the weed-killer 2,4-D, which is included in the list of banned pesticides, plan to sue Quebec, citing Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which allows private companies to sue governments.
Donald Page, executive director of the Industry Task Force II on 2,4-D, said Quebec must prove 2,4-D is carcinogenic before it can ban the herbicide. Mr. Page argues the weed-killer has not been shown to display cancer-causing properties. However, 2,4-D can cause reproductive effects, nervous system damage, damage to the kidneys and liver, birth defects, endocrine disruption and possibly cancer. He is currently heading a $30 million research program to show that 2,4-D is safe.
The government has no plans to compensate commercial horticultural companies an estimated $15 million they will lose in lost sales. "It's the responsibility of businesses that offer products which harm human health," said Minister Boisclair.
The Minister is not surprised to hear this sort of reaction from the pesticide industry. He believes their actions echo those of the U.S. tobacco industry, who spent years attempting to disprove the link between cigarettes and cancer before the government adopted restrictive legislation.
Minister Boisclair's proposed ban will become law on September 3, 2002 and impose immediate fines up to $30,000 (Canadian) for the use of the listed pesticides on provincial and municipally owned property. Private land owners will have 3 years to comply. Pesticide use on agricultural land will not be affected.
Beyond Pesticides applauds Environmental Minister, Andre Boisclair for his actions.
View a list of the pesticides proposed to be banned at http://www.menv.gouv.qc.ca/communiques/2002/c020703a-anglais-pesticides.doc (click on "cancel" when asked for a password).