At Ecojustice, we love to start a long weekend with a good old legislative ban on chemicals that risk human health and environment. Today we don’t have a ban, exactly, but we do have a solid announcement that the government of Manitoba will phase in a strong ban on the use and sale of cosmetic pesticides by December 2014.

We wrote about why such a ban is necessary in October, and I’ve included that post from staff lawyer Kaitlyn Mitchell at the end of this update.

Since then, it’s become clear that, despite a major campaign by pesticide makers, a large majority of Manitobans support a law that would phase-out the use and sale of lawn and garden pesticides across the province. One survey revealed previously unknown support with rural, urban, and suburban residents who agreed 86 per cent, 72 per cent, and 68 per cent, that cosmetic pesticides should be banned from use and sale.

Our friends at Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba, a coalition of 30 health and environment groups that includes the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and Manitoba Green Action Centre, have been working hard for almost two years on this issue and deserve congratulations on this success.

Manitoba Minister of Conservation and Water Stewardship Gord Mackintosh, who made the announcement today, deserves kudos for his leadership on an issue that will result in improved health for all Manitobans.

His intent is to introduce legislation to implement a ban in the fall 2013 session of the legislature. Ecojustice intends to continue to support this initiative and strong legislation to effect the ban.

You can too by emailing Minister Mackintosh directly (click here) and urging him to not waiver on this issue.

Thanks.

Ecojustice supports cosmetic pesticide ban in Manitoba
By Kaitlyn Mitchell, Staff Lawyer

On Oct. 1, a coalition of environmental groups told the Government of Manitoba that a cosmetic pesticide ban would protect the environment and Manitobans, especially children, from harm associated with exposure to pesticides.

Manitoba asked the public for advice on how to deal with the use of cosmetic pesticides in Playing it Safe: A Consultation on Cosmetic Lawn Pesticides. Ecojustice partnered with the Canadian Environmental Law Association and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment to submit comments.

Click here to read our comments
Pesticides used on lawns and gardens for cosmetic purposes expose Manitoba’s lake and rivers, pets and people to serious harm. We believe that reducing exposure to toxic substances, particularly during the early stages of childhood, will make Manitobans healthier. Scientific evidence has increasingly revealed that exposure to environmental contaminants, including pesticides, may contribute to asthma, reproductive and respiratory illness and cancer in children. Young children face the greatest risks from pesticide exposure because they are closer to the ground and because their bodies are still developing.

Six Canadian provinces and approximately 160 municipalities have already enacted cosmetic pesticide bans. We hope that Manitoba will take an approach similar to the one Ontario adopted in 2009, when the government enacted world-class legislation to protect the health of humans, pets and the environment. That law has resulted in reduced concentrations in urban streams of many lawn chemicals, and has not had an adverse effect on the appearance of Ontario lawns, gardens and parks since non-toxic options for controlling weeds are readily available. The lawn care sector in Ontario has continued to thrive.

In a world of multiple chemical exposures, prohibiting unnecessary and potentially harmful pesticides will benefit Manitobans. But it’s children who will benefit the most from legislative action on cosmetic pesticides. And we all agree that keeping children safe and healthy is a priority.