Daily News Archive
Bans Private Pesticide Use, U.S. Industry Plans Response
Toronto is following the lead of several other Canadian towns that banned or severely restricted private pesticide use, including Halifax, Dundas, Chelsea and Hudson. However, Toronto's success did not come easily. The pesticide bylaw first faced the opposition of Medical Officer of Health Sheela Basrur, when she recommended adopting industry self-regulation instead. Chairman and vice-chairman of the Health Board, Joe Mihevc and Jane Pitfield, held out for tougher rules to regulate industry. They faced a wall when the lawn industry entered the scene. Under the guise of an organization they named the Toronto Environmental Coalition (TEC), 12 chemical lawn-care companies and their supporters initiated a public relations scheme. Radio and television stations began airing TEC ads that made ludicrous claims, including a charge that the proposed pesticide bylaw criminalizes gardening. TEC also fed off of the already overly heightened public fear of West Nile virus by stating the bylaw would increase the risk of the virus spreading. In actuality, Toronto's West Nile Virus plan includes the application of larvacide to the city's 175,000 catch basins, and engages in a public awareness campaign of the risk associated with stagnant water on private property.
Toronto's Board of Health and Mayor were furious about TEC's outrageous claims, stating the ads were "false" and "misleading." Mihevc stated, "These chemical ads are poisonous. They are scientifically inaccurate and morally unethical To subject a city, still reeling from SARS, to fear mongering about West Nile Virus is unconscionable. The TEC is preying on the public insecurity about West Nile virus to benefit themselves." He added, "It is now clear who has the public interests in mind and who has vested interests Obviously, we cannot trust the Toronto Environmental Coalition and their lobbyist Jeff Lyons to look out for anybody but themselves." Upon hearing the officials' responses to TEC's ads, 680 News immediately pulled the ads off the air.
U.S. lawn industry
is fearful these regulations may be coming their way. Lawn & Landscape
magazine recently reported the newly formed partnership of the Professional
Lawn Care Association of America (PLCAA) and the Associated Landscape
Contractors of America (ALCA). PLCAA represents residential and commercial
lawn care professionals in the U.S. and Canada. ALCA represents approximately
2,500 professional exterior and interior landscape maintenance, installation,
and design/build contracting firms and suppliers nationwide. PLCAA now
has the duty to administer regulatory affairs for both groups. PLCAA's
vice president of legislative affairs, Tom Delaney, will coordinate
the two association's legislative programs in an effort to curb potential
pesticide restrictions in the U.S. "State and local activity is
undermining customer's appreciation for the very benefits of our members'
lawn and landscape services," says
Healthy lawns can be achieved with non-toxic methods. Soil aeration, correct mowing, organic fertilizers, vinegar and corn gluten are just some of the available alternatives to toxic chemicals. For more information, see Beyond Pesticides' Least-toxic Control of Lawn Pests fact sheet, and the Pesticides and You article Lawn Mowers to Leaf Piles: Fall is Prime Time for Lawn Care.