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Pesticide ban could be a thorny issue
Full-swing into spring and it’s easy to tell which property owners have engaged in the never-ending fight against weeds and which ones have conceded defeat.
By this point, the lawns of those who have given up have been branded bright yellow by dandelions — the environmental equivalent of a scarlet letter, if you will, though perhaps with slightly less shame involved.
Then again, maybe not. Peer pressure to adhere to arbitrarily agreed-upon social conventions isn’t limited to high school (alas) and, when it comes to yards, a carpet of lush, green grass has been decreed the aesthetic ideal. Not everyone can achieve such a thing, of course, but at the very least, no one wants their lawn to be the worst one on the block — the one that prompts neighbours to quietly tsk-tsk in judgment as they pass by.
Brace yourselves: Plans are now afoot that could see a lot more dandelions taking over a lot more Manitoba yards, parks and other green spaces in the near future.
The Manitoba government is considering a ban on cosmetic pesticides — a group of chemicals that includes herbicides, insecticides, vermicides, fungicides and rodenticides. Most other provinces already have some sort of ban on the sale and/or use of such things. According to recent reports in the Winnipeg Free Press, the process by which a similar ban will be created here will begin with the release of a discussion paper in the coming weeks, to be followed by public consultations, with a goal of introducing legislation later this fall or early next year.
People’s opinions on the plan vary according to their thoughts on cosmetic pesticides — in particular, whether or not they think exposure to them is safe. And, whether or not they do depends on the source they’re using to gather information on the subject.
Many environmental groups consider pesticides toxic poisons. The Canadian Cancer Society has publicly expressed concern about a potential link between long-term exposure to pesticides and cancer. Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency insists it does rigorous testing to ensure pesticides known to cause cancer or other illnesses are not sold or used in Canada (though it’s probably worth noting Health Canada also recommends citizens minimize pesticide use whenever possible). National pesticide industry trade association CropLife Canada and lawn-care companies argue pesticides — when used correctly — are safe, valuable tools.
It’s clearly a divisive issue, similar to Manitoba’s perennial malathion debate, and for similar reasons.
When I first acquired a yard of my own, I was determined to go chemical-free. For several years I waged battle on the dandelions armed only with my trusty hand weeder until it became clear that I was slowly but surely losing the war. At that point I called in the big guns — a lawn-care company with an arsenal of who knows what kind of noxious poisons, I certainly didn’t ask — but only for one season; too much guilt.
I’m back to the hand weeder. It’s less effective (and a lot more work) but better for my environmental conscience. Hopefully my neighbours can forgive me.
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