Media Release

Government Missing Opportunity to Protect Children and Wildlife from Pesticides

Jun 04 2002

Environmental and health organizations today criticized the Government for squandering the opportunity (the only opportunity in over 3 decades) to improve Canada's pesticide registration system. Bill C-53, the renewed Pest Control Products Act, has some welcome improvements over the 33-year old Act it replaces. But it lacks some fundamental mechanisms for ensuring farmers have access to lower risk products and protection of human health, wildlife, and the environment. The Bill is to be reported to Parliament by the Standing Committee on Health this week after undergoing only minor amendments in Committee Stage, despite over 200 suggestions proposed by Committee members. "We are stunned that the Government ignored a slate of amendments supported by industry, environment groups and farmers which could help make Canadian agriculture more sustainable and competitive and bring needed accountability and predictability to the pesticide registration system." said Sarah Dover of the World Wildlife Fund. "The lack of the precautionary principle for all decisions under the Act is a tremendous loss," stated Theresa McClenaghan, counsel with the Canadian Environmental Law Association. "The precautionary principle should be included so as to ensure that whenever there is scientific uncertainty, the decision makers err on the side of precaution, regardless of whether the question is a new registration, or a completed re-evaluation." "Bill C-53 enshrines current practice," stated Sandra Schwartz of Pollution Probe. "We were looking for the new Pest Control Products Act to substantially improve on current practice.""Some new provisions that specifically refer to children are welcome but the Bill doesn't even match what has been in place for years in the United States to protect kids," said Kathleen Cooper, researcher with the Canadian Environmental Law Association. World Wildlife Fund, Canadian Environmental Law Association, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and Pollution Probe all indicate that they plan to actively monitor implementation of the new law, especially since much of the operational aspects have been left to regulations and administrative practice. "Will children be safer after the passage of Bill C-53?" asked Dr. Kapil Khatter, Executive Director of Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. "Unfortunately we cannot confidently predict that they will be. The federal government and its pesticides agency will have to demonstrate to Canadians that this new law substantially reduces hazards pesticides pose to public health and the environment."- 30 -For further information contact:Sarah Dover, Policy Advisor, World Wildlife Fund Canada, 613-230-9886 Sandra Schwartz, Manager, Child Health Program, Pollution Probe, 613-237-3485 Dr. Kapil Khatter, Executive Director, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, 416-463-3080Theresa McClenaghan, Counsel, Canadian Environmental Law Association 519-442-1589 or cell: 519-757-5266Kathleen Cooper, Researcher, Canadian Environmental Law Association 416-960-2284 ext. 221