Millvale, PEI, August 11, 2014 – After more than a half-century of toxic assaults on PEI rivers by the potato industry, the perennial response from government to improve regulations is grossly inadequate.
“Years of committees, studies and changing regulations have not stopped the pesticide poisoning of our rivers and the latest disaster in the North River is yet one more failure,” said Earth Action coordinator Sharon Labchuk. “More importantly, government refuses to address the big picture problem which is the widespread havoc wreaked by industrial agriculture and its chemical pesticides and fertilizers.”
Labchuk said the evidence is clear. Virtually all of PEI’s drinking water is contaminated with chemical fertilizer according to provincial government data. Environment Canada studies discovered high levels of cancer-causing potato pesticides in the air, even in areas where no potatoes are grown.
“Spending tax dollars on futile fish kill solutions is pointless when these same pesticides are also in the air we breathe. Once those chemicals are released into the air, there is no way to regulate them,” said Labchuk. “PEI’s wind speed regulations are nothing more than a sham. Pesticide manufacturers say spraying on a dead calm day is just as dangerous as spraying when it’s windy.”
The only way to protect PEI’s air, water, soil, wildlife and citizens is to abandon the chemical-dependent industrial agriculture model in favour of organic agriculture said Labchuk. That transition can be hastened by ending unfair competition in the marketplace for organic food.
“Chemically-produced food is highly subsidized by taxpayers. We don’t pay the full price at the cash register, we pay it through our income taxes. The cost to taxpayers is massive for the burden on our health care system, environmental clean ups, Department of Agriculture staff dedicated to industrial agriculture and federal and provincial pesticide regulatory agencies,” said Labchuk. “And how do we put a price on the loss of soil, clean drinking water, and human and animal lives? Fish kills would come to an abrupt end if chemically produced food were taxed to reflect its true full cost of production. Organic food would be a bargain in comparison.”