Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ban, and plan

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Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh mustered the strongest available evidence Friday in announcing legislation to ban synthetic, cosmetic pesticides. Mounting studies show an association between pesticides and diseases and disorders in children, specifically. It is a cautionary move other municipalities and provinces have also adopted.

Mr. Mackintosh says he'll table a bill in the next session, after consulting businesses that produce and use the chemicals. The law will be effective in December 2014, and phased in over the following year. Agricultural lands, gardens, golf courses and sod farms would be exempt, along with spraying to beat back noxious and invasive weeds.

The pesticide industry has a legitimate beef about bans in that there is no definitive science linking the described harms to the use of synthetic weed control products permitted by Health Canada. But public opinion is clearly moving in favour of restricting use of the compounds that are increasingly linked to health concerns, such as cancers and developmental disorders. There is unlikely to be political blowback for the Selinger government on this file.

Recreation clubs and school boards will be hard-pressed to keep their grounds, especially soccer fields, groomed sufficiently. Mr. Mackintosh's bill should include a public review after the ban has been in place for reasonable trial period to judge its purported benefits.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 29, 2013 A16

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