Monday, July 4, 2011

Same research, different laws.

Why is Canada banning harmful pesticides while the United States continues to use synthetic chemicals for nuisance control on public and private places? It is not simply because our EPA is years behind on re-registering tens of thousands of pesticides that have been registered since the 1980’s, neither is because tests performed on these chemicals are not showing harmful results. The reason seems to lay with US citizens’ lack of knowledge and/or concern about the information that has arisen.

**As well as big industries' need for profit and their ability to hide the truth and cheat us out of our health and a healthy environment. **

On June 28, 2001, in Ottawa, Ontario, Supreme Court Justice Claire L’Heureux Dube gave one town, Hudson, Quebec, the right to ban pesticides from public and private places. For the first time, the Precautionary Principle was invoked or rather the thought that preventative measures to protect our health and environment should be taken even without absolute proof of harm. A diverse group of knowledgeable and concerned citizens at the Wingspread conference center in Wisconsin in 1998 defined the Precautionary Principle as: "When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically." Some components of this principle include an assessment of alternatives, preventative actions and our communities’ right to know. In particular, the United States citizens’ right to know may be lacking and we may be less informed as to the extensive information on the potential health and environmental impacts of some or all of the products we use.

There are correlations of both short term (acute) and long term (chronic) health effects and pesticide exposure. Transient effects may include: rashes, breathing difficulties, headaches, nausea, and the burning of eyes and throats. Long term (chronic) effects involve our immune system leaving us more vulnerable to disease such as cancer. Cancers risks include: leukemia, brain and breast cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, myeloma, prostate and soft tissue sarcoma.

Moreover, birth defects, neurological (Parkinson’s disease and brain damage) and reproductive disorders (including miscarriages and infertility), and endocrine disorders (hormonal imbalances and diabetes), genetic mutations, liver, pancreatic, kidney, and bladder damage are well linked to pesticide exposure. Recent research studies see a similar link for attention-deficit and hyperactivity disorders, and cognitive decline measured by lower IQ.

So why do Americans still spray Roundup while Canadian towns ban it? Why is our Home Depot still selling synthetic chemicals for our lawn and garden when Home Depot locations in Canada no longer carry these products? We all know names such as Roundup, Weed N Feed and Miracle Gro but how many Americans know Safer Brand, EcoSMART and Garden Safe? We simply have not been given the knowledge or educated ourselves enough to tell stores and neighbors, this is NOT what we want. We want SAFER alternatives. We want organic options that will remain sustainable, not damage our soils and possibly our health.

The citizens of Canada and Justice Dube introduced the precautionary principle because research suggests that pesticides are dangerous. Therefore, they choose safe alternatives to drastically reduce the possibility of harm to their health, children, pets and environment. I believe if we as United States citizens were more aware of the mounting research, communities would show concern for the negative impacts of chemical pesticides and town by town, a ban of pesticides could sweep New Hampshire and the US, similar to what is happening in Canada.

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