Environmental groups force Ottawa to review approval of hundreds of pesticide products

February 5, 2014

Groups had to sue the Minister of Health to secure reviews of pesticides
already banned in Europe

MONTREAL, Feb. 5, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ – Environmental groups have forced
Ottawa to review the approval of up to 383 pesticide products
containing 23 active ingredients including many with links to cancer
and water contamination.

After a legal challenge by Equiterre and the David Suzuki Foundation,
the federal government will examine these pesticide products, which
contain ingredients that are already banned for use in Europe, and will
decide whether to ban or restrict their use in Canada.

“The health of Canadians should be the government’s top priority and
that’s why these reviews are so important,” said Sidney Ribaux,
executive director at Equiterre. “If these pesticides are not proven to
be safe, we must find alternatives.”

The harmful impacts of these pesticides are well-known. For example,
Europe has banned Atrazine, one of the chemicals in the lawsuit, since
2004, but it is still approved in Canada for use on corn. Atrazine is a
frequently detected herbicide widely contaminating Canadian surface
water and groundwater, and poses health risks as an endocrine
disruptor. The herbicides 2,4-D, Bromoxynil and Linuron, and the
insecticides Carbaryl and Dichlorvos, are likewise approved for use in
Canada, but have been banned by European countries because of serious
health risks that include cancer.

With the initiation of these 23 special reviews, the groups have won the
first round in their efforts to protect the environment and Canadians’
health. With this victory, the groups will now seek to put their
lawsuit on hold, to give Canada time to fully commit to its legal
duties to conduct pesticide reviews.

“The Government must now show that it clearly intends to protect its
citizens and the environment from harmful pesticides,” said Mara Kerry,
David Suzuki Foundation science and policy director. “Other countries
have banned these pesticides because they are extremely toxic and
degrade the environment, so why is Canada still allowing their use?”

Last August, Equiterre and the David Suzuki Foundation sued the
Government of Canada over its refusal to take steps to protect
Canadians from hundreds of pesticide products that contain 29 active

Represented by Ecojustice lawyers, the two organizations filed a lawsuit
alleging that the Minister of Health and the Pest Management Regulatory
Agency (PMRA) acted unlawfully when they refused to review the approval
of pesticide products containing three pesticide ingredients:
chlorthal-dimethyl, trifluralin and trichlorfon.

The lawsuit also alleged that the Minister and the PMRA were unlawfully
failing to review pesticide products containing 26 other active
ingredients. These pesticide ingredients had been part of a request
made in October 2012 by the groups, asking that the Minister of Health
review the use of these harmful pesticide ingredients and decide
whether to ban or restrict their use in Canada.

“Our lawsuit has forced Canada, for the first time in history, to do
special reviews of pesticide products banned in Europe,” said
Ecojustice staff lawyer Lara Tessaro. “Going forward, we hope that the
Government will start taking seriously its duties to protect Canadians’
health and environment from exposure to harmful toxic substances.”

Background documents:

Details on the 23 pesticide ingredients to be reviewed – Backgrounder

Special Review Request by David Suzuki Foundation and Equiterre (October 2012)

SOURCE Équiterre

Source: PR Newswire

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