PANNA: New Quebec Pesticide Ban in Peril


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New Quebec Pesticide Ban in Peril
Environmental Minister Replaced
March 15, 2006

The people of Quebec have worked hard to come up with protections for their communities from pesticides. An historic set of regulatory guidelines for limits on pesticide use is set to be implemented on April 3rd. This exceptional model for all communities was protected by Mr. Thomas Mulcair, who was a staunch defender of the Pesticide Code of Quebec and the environment. Two weeks ago he was replaced as the Minister of the Environment by Mr. Claude Bechard. Mr. Bechard was formerly the Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade. Citizens of Quebec are concerned that Minister Bechard may not keep the focus on public health as strong as it currently is for the Pesticide Code.

Take Action Now! Ask Minister Bechard to keep the Pesticide Code intact!

The Pesticide Code of Quebec has two main objectives:

  • to avoid and reduce impacts on public health and the environment;
  • to rationalize and reduce pesticide use.

These are the primary guidelines the government is using in evaluating pesticides in their environment. Additionally, the code promotes alternatives to pesticide use, and supports funding and research for information and “consciousness-raising tools.” The provisions as stipulated enable the government to:

  • classify pesticides;
  • establish a system of permits and certificates;
  • require records and statements of sales and use;
  • require that measures be taken to minimize the environmental impacts of activities related to pesticide storage, sale and use;
  • impose sanctions.

To this end, the Act establishes mechanisms requiring most pesticide users and vendors to comply with a system of permits and certificates and empowers the government to impose rules for pesticide storage, sale and use. A pesticide classification process also makes it possible to adjust regulatory requirements according to the risks that these products represent for public health and the environment.

The Pesticides Act defines a pesticide as follows: “any substance, matter or microorganism intended to directly or indirectly control, destroy, mitigate, attract or repel any organism that is injurious to or noxious or troublesome for humans, animal life, vegetation, crops or any other object, or intended for use as a plant growth regulator, except a vaccine or medication other than a topical medication for external use on animals.” These pesticides include insecticides, herbicides, phytocides, fungicides, rodenticides and any other product, except medication, used to control harmful organisms.

There are some exemptions from the Pesticide Act, including mechanical or physical devices that do not contain an active ingredient, such as organic mulch, sticky fly strips, insects that might be used as a predator or parasite in pest management, ingredients used for swimming pools, aquariums, or treated drinking water, air cleansers, disinfectants, detergent additives, vaccines or anti-pest medication for human use or non-topicals for external use on animals.

Pesticides have been found in the bodies of pregnant women, amniotic fluid, the umbilical cord and the placenta, in the meconium of newborn babies and in mother’s milk. A recent Quebec study found pesticides in the bodies of children. Of the children tested, 98.7% were contaminated with pesticides. Among the pesticides found was the herbicide 2,4-D. There has been an effort to remove 2,4-D from the code.

At a recent conference held late in 2005 by the lawn care industry, it was announced that every effort would be made to get 2,4-D off the list of pesticides to be banned in Quebec. If successful, this would mean that 2,4-D could be sprayed on the green spaces in communities where the children play and are at risk.

The people of Quebec are urging the New Minister of Environment to:

  • keep 2,4-D on Quebec’s list of banned active pesticide ingredients,
  • leave the Pesticide Code untouched and
  • implement the final phase of the Pesticide Code of Quebec, as scheduled, on April 3, 2006.

Take Action

Colborn T. A Case for Revisiting the Safety of Pesticides: A Closer Look at Neurodevelopment. Environ Health Perspect. 2006;114(1):10-17. It is available at

Environmental Defence

Caracterisation de l’exposition aux pesticides utilises en milieu residentiel chez des enfants Quebecois ages de 3 a 7 ans.

Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides –

Pesticide Products to be banned in Quebec:

Pesticides Management Code,
Contact: PANNA

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.

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