Daily News Archive

Canadian Medical Association Calls for "Weed and Feed" Ban
(Beyond Pesticides, August 20, 2004)
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) adopted a resolution on Monday, August 16, calling for the ban of combined fertilizer and pesticide products, so to ensure that each be sold separately to consumers. Products that combine a fertilizer with pesticides, commonly known as "Weed and Feed," are convenient to use and are becoming more prevalent. However, using these products contributes to the unnecessary use of pesticides with the result that the toxic chemical compounds inherent in these pesticides can be harmful to human beings, animals, and fish.

The decision was made after the British Columbia Medical Association called on CMA to take action on this issue at their annual meeting in Toronto this week. Dr. Jack Burak, President of the BC Medical Association, stated, "Many consumers are unaware of the toxicity of these combined products and tend to spread them widely over their lawn when they should only be used in concentrated, problematic areas. For the health of ourselves and our environment, pesticide use should be a measure of last resort, and should not be used indiscriminately or even unknowingly."

Many people do not realize how weed and feed products work. Some Canadian garden supply storeowners refuse to stock them because of this. "It's a misuse of the chemical, as far as we're concerned," stated Wade Hartwell, owner and president of Golden Acre Garden Sentres in Calgary. "(People) put it on the whole lawn when they only have two weeds," said Jason Perrin of Greengate Garden Centres, also in Calgary. In addition, many people apply weed and feed as a preventive measure to keep weeds from popping up. However, the herbicides in these products are post-emergent, and will not prevent weeds. Barb Kinnie of the Sierra Club stated, "Most people think they're using them as a preventive measure, it doesn't work that way, and it ends up being a problem for the environment, and people and pets."

Weed and feed products typically contain such hazardous herbicides as 2,4-D or dicamba. A growing number of scientific studies now link exposure to pesticides with increased rates of certain cancers, nervous system diseases, learning disabilities, Parkinson’s disease, and reproductive problems. Children, especially, are considered a high-risk group due to their increased exposure to, and sensitivity of, toxic chemicals. Developmental disabilities such as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, developmental delays, and behavioral disorders are being studied for links to childhood exposure to environmental chemicals found in pesticides.

Although a few local programs are in place in Canada with regards to pesticide use, no federal program has been implemented. The federal government produced a report four years ago that emphasized a need to change consumers' attitudes about using pesticides, and recommended increased consumer education, but to date no action has been taken.

TAKE ACTION: Contact your local policymakers to call for the ban of "weed and feed" products in your community. Point to the progressive policies of local Canadian municipalities, and this recent resolution by the Canadian Medical Association. More information regarding the toxicity of lawn chemicals and safe, effective alternatives, along with resources to start organizing in your community, is available at Beyond Pesticides’ Lawns and Landscapes program page.