Why support a cosmetic pesticide ban in Manitoba?

A cosmetic pesticide ban helps protect vulnerable residents, particularly small children.

Now that summer is finally here in Manitoba, many families are thinking about how to keep their grass green and the flowers blooming. We all love our lawns and gardens, but how we maintain them can have significant impacts on our health and the environment.

For example, some people choose to use cosmetic pesticides, chemicals used to kill weeds (herbicides) and insects (insecticides) for lawn and garden care.  The use of cosmetic pesticides has been the centre of great debate across the province in the past year.

In 2012, The Manitoba Government, led by Minister of Conservation and Water Stewardship Gord Macintosh, completed a cosmetic pesticide ban consultation. More than 2,000 people participated in consultations and over 70 per cent of them were in favour of increased regulation. The proposed ban would not affect commercial or agricultural uses of pesticides. A 2013 Winnipeg Free Press survey also indicated a majority of Manitobans support the ban.

Winnipeg resident Melanie Sourisseau, mother of two young children, supports a cosmetic pesticide ban.

“I am concerned about the risks that these chemicals pose to my children and their overall health. I struggle with how it is allowed to place lawn aesthetics above our health and feel that Manitoba should follow what has been put into effect in provinces such as Ontario and Quebec, giving Manitobans, especially our children, the same protection.”

In May 2013, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment campaigner Farrah Khan spoke out in support of a provincial ban.

“The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment supports the work of Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba because we believe Manitobans deserve the same protection that millions of other Canadians now have from unnecessary lawn chemicals,” Khan said. “Banning the use and sale of lawn and garden pesticides across the province will help prevent illnesses such as childhood leukemia, ADHD, and asthma, as well as birth defects and other reproductive problems. Kids shouldn’t have to worry about playing in the grass. Our doctors look forward to a strong and health-protective ban on cosmetic pesticides across Manitoba.”

There are several community and environmental organizations in Manitoba that offer natural lawn care education and workshops such as the Manitoba Eco Network and the City of Winnipeg. We have options, and other provinces have shown a ban can work here.

Summer 2013 may be ripe for the Manitoba Government to give Manitobans the same protections as other Canadians so we can all enjoy safe and green lawns this summer. If you would like to strengthen support for the cosmetic pesticide ban visit the Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba website.

About

I am University of Manitoba graduate student focusing on participatory action community health research. I am currently working on a campaign with the Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba (CPBM) coalition and as a research assistant in the Faculty of Medicine. I appreciate working with not-for-profit organizations such as Green Action Centre who supports CPBM.