Opinion

Proposed Kelowna bylaw important

To the editor:

The City of Kelowna is presently considering a bylaw that would ban the use of cosmetic pesticides.

This important bylaw will protect the citizens of Kelowna from the potential harms of unnecessary pesticides. Presently across Canada, more than 140 municipalities have adopted such by laws protecting over 52 per cent of the Canadian population.

The function of pesticides is to kill unwanted weeds and insects and is a broad category which includes herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides.

The chemicals that are in these pesticides have the potential to be harmful to humans, animals and the environment.

Scientific studies link pesticides with harmful effects to humans such as cancer, neurological damage, negative reproductive outcomes, and endocrine disruption with children being one of the most vulnerable populations to these harms.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified some substances used in pesticides as known, probable or possible carcinogens.

Recent studies link pesticide exposure to both adult and childhood cancers such as leukemia, brain cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, neuroblastoma, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, and some lung cancers (Canadian Cancer Society, 2007).

The David Suzuki Foundation (2007) published an article that reviewed studies about pesticides and the effects on children. They found that 2,800 Canadian children suffer from acute pesticide poisonings a year. This would be equal to about 100 kindergarten classes or about 50 school buses of children annually.

Children are among the most vulnerable in our society and knowing the potential harms of pesticides leads us to question why we would unnecessarily expose children to these chemicals especially when there are many safer alternatives.

These alternatives could be as easy as manual weeding, aerating your lawn, using dirt made from compost for nutrients and overseeding. There are many nontoxic options available for lawn and garden care that do not harm our children.

There is growing evidence in the medical and scientific literature that pesticides are harmful to human health especially children; therefore, we recommend that the city enacts the precautionary principle when considering policy regarding lawn and garden pesticide use—that is, “better safe than sorry.”

We do not need to wait for the “causal evidence” or the “smoking gun” that directly connects pesticides with deleterious harms before we take action to protect ourselves, our children and pets.

If we had waited for the “causal evidence” that directly links smoking to cancer, we would not have taken any action on smoking until 1998.

Despite the tobacco industry’s claim that we did not have evidence that smoking “causes” cancer, health organizations and many levels of government throughout Canada took actions to restrict smoking long before the “causal” evidence and as such saved many lives.

There is definitely a growing body of evidence linking pesticides with negative health outcomes, and we need to take precautionary measures now.

The Interior Health Authority, School District 23, Regional District of the Central Okanagan and the B.C. Cancer Agency do not use pesticides on any of their properties.

Since these organizations and public facilities do not use chemicals on lawns, why are we, the public, putting them on our lawns and fields?

In the near future Kelowna city council will be voting on passing a by law banning the cosmetic use of pesticides.

The council is accepting letters from the public until 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15, on the views of pesticides and may consider them during their vote.

Go to http://www.earthcares.org which has a sample letter that you can copy and sign and send to City Hall.

There is also an e-mail address available in which you can write a letter of your own.

Tina Duggan, Tracy Miranda, Mirjam Grimm, Kim Ecker,

Amy Fairholm

UBC Okanagan students

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