Pesticide Action Network Updates Service (PANUPS)
On March 5, Québec's Environment Minister announced the province's adoption of a landmark Pesticide Management Code, which strictly regulates the storage, sales and use of pesticides in Québec. Among the pesticides banned for non-agricultural uses is the controversial herbicide, 2,4-D. When the Code was first proposed in July 2002, industry representatives warned that, if adopted, Québec would be sued under NAFTA's Chapter 11.
"Through this regulation, Québec becomes the first place in North America to ban the most dangerous pesticides for health and the environment. The action undertaken today by the Québec government will reduce people's exposure to these products which are particularly noxious to children's health," declared the Minister.
The Code states that, effective immediately, synthetic pesticides are prohibited in all daycare facilities and schools and the use of cosmetic pesticides is banned on all public land; by 2005, the ban will extend to all private green spaces, with fines ranging from CAN$500-$30,000. The ban covers 23 pesticide active ingredients that--according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and/or World Health Organization (WHO)--are known or possible carcinogens or endocrine disruptors, including lindane, malathion, MCPA, permethrin, benomyl, captan and 2,4-D.
In addition to the ban, the Code also increases buffer zones around open water, outlaws application of mixtures of pesticides and fertilizers, requires sale and use permits for pesticide applicators, requires golf courses to present pesticide use reduction plans, and provides a list of less-toxic and organic pest control products.
Beyond the new provincial rules, Montreal--a city of nearly 2 million--is considering even stricter rules on pesticide use on public and private lands. Several dozen other municipalities across Québec have already legislated bans on cosmetic use of pesticides. Environmentalists in Québec are very encouraged by the progress at both municipal and provincial levels.
"There is no doubt that this trend will pave the way for other Provinces and the rest of the world to follow. Tourism in Québec should become an attractive and safe proposition!" stated Rohini Peris, Communications Director of the Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (CAP).
The Code is also welcomed by environmentalists outside of Québec. "A landmark policy of one government increases credibility everywhere else," stated David Chatfield, Executive Director of Californians for Pesticide Reform. "There's no question that Québec's regulations will help our Healthy Schools Campaign here in California."
The Montreal Gazette reported that a lawsuit was threatened the day after the Code was presented. Donald Page, Executive Director of the Industry Task Force II on 2,4-D Research, funded by the four North American manufacturers of the weedkiller 2,4-D--Dow AgroSciences, BASF, Nufarm Inc. and Agro-Gor S.A.--said the industry would sue under Chapter 11 of NAFTA if Québec insisted on adopting the ban. Québec's Environment Minister seemed to take it in stride, "I am not surprised to hear that kind of reaction," the Minister said on July 6, 2002. "If there is a parallel, it is with what happened with the tobacco producers the day the government decided to adopt restrictive legislation."
Later, when asked to comment on the passing of the Québec ban, a Task Force spokesman insisted that Page was misquoted by The Montreal Gazette, and had no further comment.
CAP and other local health activist groups are calling for support from the national and international communities. "We must make sure that the proponents of this legislation get the credit that they deserve for standing up for public health and standing against the threat of a NAFTA lawsuit," said Peris.
If you would like to send a letter of support to government officials in Québec and Montreal, visit: http://www.panna.org/resources/documents/QuebecLetter2.dv.html
Québec's Pesticide Management Code is available in French at http://www.menv.gouv.qc.ca/index-en.htm. English or French copies can be ordered at (800) 463-2100.
Sources: Environment Québec Press Release, March 5, 2003; Industry Task Force on 2,4-D Research II, personal correspondence; The Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides News Release, March 10, 2003; "Boisclair stands firm: U.S. Industry Lobby Won't Change Québec Pesticide Ban" July 6, 2002, The Montreal Gazette.
Contacts: Michel Gaudet or Rohini Peris, Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (CAP), C.P. 434, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Québec J3V 5G8, Canada; phone (514) 683-5701; fax (450) 441-2138; email email@example.com; Web site http://www.cap-quebec.com/.
PANUPS is a weekly email news service providing resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues that don't always get coverage by the mainstream media. It's produced by Pesticide Action Network North America, a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide.