Reports from Canadian Weed Science Society
Posted: November 18, 2008
The Canadian Weed Science Society annual meeting, Nov. 25-27 in Banff, Alberta, is one of the most comprehensive sessions on weed management in North America.
The society is dedicated to the study and understanding of weeds and invasive plant species and their impact on the agricultural landscape. Members include those involved in weed research, extension, education, product development, marketing or regulation, and others with an interest in weed management.
The meeting offers a broad overview of the latest weed management technology, strategies and challenges. It also serves as a barometer on major issues and where things are headed in product development and the regulatory environment.
Visit this space during and following the meeting as Canada Sprayer Guide gives you a front row seat to some of the key knowledge and perspectives presented, with on-the-ground reports direct from Banff.
Related Articles: Canadian Weed Science Society
The great Canadian municipal pesticide debate - the week in review
Posted: November 18, 2008
The debate over the cosmetic use of pesticides continued to rage over the past week. In the process, the same debate extended to include pesticides used in agricultural production. Here are some highlights.
Cancer society focuses on farm pesticides. The Canadian Cancer Society, a primary driver behind the wave of municipal pesticide bans sweeping Canada, pondered the pros and cons of banning or minimizing the agricultural use of pesticides, in the process suggesting that such a move may be at odds with its other goals.
In a Globe and Mail article, the Canadian Cancer Society's Heather Logan said the organization recognizes the role of crop protection products in providing low-cost fruits and vegetables to consumers.
"(If foods are) so unaffordable that people who have lower incomes can't afford to eat a healthy diet, that has the potential to increase their risk long-term of a whole host of chronic diseases," said Logan in the article, which highlighted a "state of the science" conference on pesticides and cancer held by the Cancer Society November 12-13 in Toronto.
Perhaps ironically, the statement echoes that of crop protection industry advocate Lorne Hepworth in a recently-published Canada Sprayer Guide Special Report. "If you start withdrawing our ability to manage that 30 to 40 percent of our crops that might be threatened if you didn't have insecticides and fungicides and herbicides, food prices go up, yields go down and who gets hit the hardest in that scenario is some of the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities," said Hepworth.
Alberta government bans 'weed and feed.' The Government of Alberta announced a forthcoming ban on herbicide-fertilizer combination products - known informally as "weed and feed" products - starting January 1, 2010. In a news release, Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner praised the move as part of a larger strategy to protect the quality of the province's water supply.
"We need to take steps wherever possible to protect and preserve the quality of Alberta's rivers and lakes," said Renner. "By eliminating products that encourage mass application we will reduce the amount of chemical run-off in our waterways."
According to the release, the ban will not extend to products intended for spot application to weeds, which will still be available for sale and use.
Anti-pesticide groups speak out on NAFTA decision. The decision by crop chemical manufacturers Dow AgroSciences to launch a NAFTA challenge against the Government of Quebec continued to make waves. In a news release, the Council of Canadians and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) condemned NAFTA for letting Dow sue Canada over a Quebec ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides such as 2,4-D.
"Citizens in every corner of the country are outraged that a U.S.-based transnational firm would attack Quebec's environmental laws," said Council of Canadians board member Steven Shrybman, referred to in the release as a "trade expert."
CAPE executive director Gideon Forman said pesticide bans such as Quebec's reduce the use of lawn chemicals significantly and protect people from serious illness. "Exposure to some of these poisons puts a person at risk for cancer and neurological disease," says Forman. "But Quebec's ban helped cut pesticide use by 50 percent – a far greater reduction than anywhere else in Canada."
The Council of Canadians bills itself as a "citizens' organization" working "to protect Canadian independence by promoting progressive policies on fair trade, clean water, energy security, public health care, and other issues of social and economic concern to Canadians." CAPE has been an outspoken proponent of pending Ontario restrictions on the cosmetic use of pesticides.