by Anne Sherrod
Four New Zealand groups – the Safe Food Campaign, Pesticide Action Network, Soil & Health, and the Breast Cancer Network – have put the pesticide Endosulfan at the top of their list of hazardous substances that ought to be banned. This organochlorine is sprayed on vegetables and fruits, leaving residues in soil, water, air, and food. It has been linked to breast cancer, hormonal disruption, and fetal, genetic, neurological, behavioural, and immune system damage at very low doses.
The New Zealand groups say it is also urgent to ban 2,4-D, an organochlorine weedkiller that is widely usedon lawns and golf courses, and Chlorpyrifos, an insecticide used on many vegetables, fruits, and grains. 2,4-D is an organochlorine that has been linked to prenatal brain damage, breast and other cancers.
Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate that can damage development of the brain and nervous system in children (PestManagement Regulatory Agency, REV2007-01.) Both Endosulfan and Chlorpyrifos are toxic to many species of fish and wildlife.
Pesticides Banned in Europe But Not In Canada
A recent report from the David Suzuki Foundation, The Food We Eat, (David Boyd, 2006), says endosulfan has already been banned in the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the European Union. The Pesticide Action Network ites 20 countries across Europe, the Mideast, and Asia that have banned it. These countries are using safer alternatives for pesticide control.
According to the David Suzuki Foundation report, Health Canada permits the use of 60 pesticides no longer permitted in other countries, and Endosulfan is one of them. Ten products containing Endosulfan are registered for use in Canada. The US and Canada will accept Endosulfan
Minimum Residue Levels of 7 parts per million (ppm) on fruits and vegetables, whereas Australia allows only 0.2-2 ppm. (Boyd, 2006).
Twenty-nine insecticides containing Chlorpyrifos are registered for use in Canada on peaches, nectarines, and strawberries, a wide variety of vegetables, and grains including barley, wheat, oats, canola, and flax. Aerial spraying is currently allowed.
Meanwhile, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Canada. Links between breast cancer, birth defects, and pesticides continue to emerge from scientific research. A recent study in Manitoba (Magoon, 2006) examined thousands of hospital records and showed that areas with higher incidence of birth defects and other health problems also had a higher level of pesticide use.
For more information see:
Boyd, D. The Food We Eat, David Suzuki Foundation, 2006, www.davidsuzuki.org
Pesticide Action Network, "Position Paper on Endosulfan," 2006, www.panap.net
Pest Management Regulatory Agency, "Update on the Re-Evaluation of Chlorpyrifos," Jan. 5, 2007,
Anne Sherrod has been writing on environmental issues in BC for 25 years. She is currently Chair of the Valhalla Wilderness Society.
What You Can Do
Endosulfan, Chlorpyrifos, and 2,4-D are currently under re-evaluation at Canada's Pest Management
Regulatory Agency (PMRA). You can contact the PMRA at: email@example.com;
Fax(613)736-3798, 2720 Riverside Drive, Ottawa, ON, A.L. 6606D2, K1A 0K9.
Please consider requesting that all three pesticides be banned from use in Canada.