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LETTER: Earth Day and pesticides

Dear Editor:

Earth Day is over for another year.  Around the world, people used this day to think about the delicate balance between humans and our environment.  Millions took these insights to heart and took action to ensure that people can live in harmony with nature.  But what about the day after, and each day following?

On the heels of Earth Day, the Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon, is challenging all British Columbians to take Earth Day messages to heart.   It is time to start using non-toxic methods to beautify our lawns, gardens, parks and sport fields.  It is time for us to enjoy recreational green spaces without being concerned about the adverse health effects of exposure to these unnecessary chemical pesticides. Here in the Kootenay region, four municipalities, including Nelson, Invermere, Kimberley and most recently Fernie, have banned the cosmetic use of pesticides.  It is time for all of us to build onto this momentum, and take action.

Scientific research has linked exposure to chemical pesticides with an increased risk of both adult and childhood cancers.  As the nationally respected and trusted voice on all cancer issues, the Canadian Cancer Society is committed to bringing these findings to the attention of Canadians.  We are also committed to ensuring governments play a role in putting policies in place to protect human health.

The BC government is considering regulating the sale and use of chemical pesticides used for aesthetic (cosmetic) purposes; however we are concerned that government action may not go far enough.  The BC government may rely on the principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to guide their decision-making and we believe, when it comes to cosmetic use, this approach falls short of adequately protecting human health.  Of note, IPM allows the use of chemical pesticides as a ‘last resort.’  We believe, when it comes to simply improving the appearance of a lawn or garden, the health of our citizens and the environment should trump the need to use these products, even as a last resort.

We urge all British Columbians to take action.  Let the BC government know why you support strong legislation banning the use and sale of cosmetic chemical pesticides, and remind the government, that when it comes to cosmetic use, IPM is not the answer.  Do your part, on the heels of Earth Day, by joining the fight against cancer.  Speak out by sending a letter, emailing or calling your MLA and the Environment Minister by visiting www.cancer.ca/bc/advocate

Imagine…a world where no Canadian fears cancer.  We believe such a world is possible.

Sincerely,

Phyllis Boates     
President
Canadian Cancer Society, Kootenay Region

Patti Moore
Community Action Coordinator
Canadian Cancer Society