It is reassuring to hear that the District of Squamish does not use herbicides and pesticides in our parks and for Public Works purposes and that the use of glyphosate is limited to focused applications. Japanese knotweed is nasty and creates a lot of havoc.
A closer look at the controversy has given me a clearer picture and understanding into the basis for concerns with glyphosate (Roundup) and its potential to harm, especially for children.
Several health, science and environmental organizations reviewed Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s (PMRA) 2017 decision that re-approved the use of glyphosate for another 15 years. They subsequently filed a Notice of Objection on scientific grounds and requested an independent review panel to reconsider its decision.
Health Canada announced that it will not take further steps to address these concerns.
Adding to the controversy. The integrity of the science, Health Canada presumably based its decision on, was allegedly brought into question.
A U.S. lawsuit – disclosing internal documents known as the ‘Monsanto papers’ –alleged that Monsanto knowingly manipulated scientific research and publications, and downplayed the cancer-risks of its glyphosate-based products for years. Health Canada seemingly relied on this research in its 2017 decision to approve the continued use of glyphosate.
Recently, the CBC published an investigative report – The Monsanto Papers: Roundup & The Canadian Connection. It gives a timeline of events and an association going back decades to Health Canada. The CBC’s video report, available online, is informative and adds valuable context.
So safe or unsafe? What to do?
A physician-directed organization – Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) – has long-since voiced concerns for the health impacts of pesticides on humans and the environment and is one of the organizations to file a Notice of Objection to re-approving widespread use of glyphosate. CAPE advocates for stronger regulations for pesticide use and offers resources on their website to assist provinces and municipalities seeking to better regulate pesticides within their jurisdiction.
Seven provinces across Canada have taken steps to reduce risk and now have laws that prohibit the use of some pesticides for cosmetic purposes. British Columbia has not taken this step. However, as of 2016, 40 BC municipalities have brought in bylaws banning the use ‘cosmetic pesticide’ within municipal boundaries.
Perhaps a municipal bylaw is something for Squamish to consider. It’s a conversation worth having.
Editor’s note: Health Canada published this on its website in January: “Following the release of the Department’s final re-evaluation decision on glyphosate in 2017, Health Canada received eight notices of objection. There have also been concerns raised publicly about the validity of some of the science around glyphosate in what is being referred to as the Monsanto Papers.
Health Canada scientists reviewed the information provided in these notices, and assessed the validity of any studies in question, to determine whether any of the issues raised would influence the results of the assessment and the associated regulatory decision.
After a thorough scientific review, we have concluded that the concerns raised by the objectors could not be scientifically supported when considering the entire body of relevant data. The objections raised did not create doubt or concern regarding the scientific basis for the 2017 re-evaluation decision for glyphosate. Therefore, the Department’s final decision will stand.”