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The controversial herbicide, Killex is on the chopping block again. Victoria man, Ingmar Lee is on a crusade to have the weed killer pulled from retail shelves. His plight is not based on the toxins 'inside' of the product, but the cunningly concealed warning labels on the 'outside'.
"I have now shown (KILLEX) to many people and asked them to carefully inspect the labelling for any health warnings, including the entire Victoria City Council, and not one person was able to locate (a Health Warning Label)."
He contends that, without clear warning labels, consumers may not realize the serious health threats posed by exposure to the product, especially among children. A good many scientists and doctors would agree.
Arguably the most widely used herbicide in Canada, Killex employs the active ingredient 2,4-D, a chemical that is the subject of considerable health concern. In recent studies, 2,4-D exposure has been linked with soft tissue sarcomas, including non-Hogkin's lymphoma (see references below). So it comes as no surprise that a groundswell of public support to ban 'cosmetic-use' pesticides, like Killex, has swept across the country.
The question in Lee's mind is, how many children have been unwittingly exposed to the toxin as a result of profoundly insuffiecient labelling? A child's exposure can be as simple as playing on a recently treated lawn. If Dad doesn't see a warning label, he may not realize that a child's physical contact with the pesticide, days or even weeks after it's application, might result in a parent's worst nightmare.
In a letter to Pest Management Regulatory Agency Executive Director, Claire Franklin, Lee points to the May 16, 2000 report "Pesticides, Making the Right Choice for the Protection of Health and the Environment" (by House of Commons Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development). The 200 plus page document refers to a litany of studies demonstrating grave health risks from pesticide exposure, including 2,4-D. He refers to its assertion that children are particularly vulnerable, espcially to those products used in and outside of the home.
"I carefully inspected the labelling (of "Ready to Use Killex" Reg.#18,295 and "Concentrated Killex" Reg.# 9,350) for the health warnings, which after reading (this report), I expected to find front and centre. To my amazement, there were no visible health warnings to be seen on the labelling, and, even the word "herbicide" was only mentioned on the French side."
In fact, the warnings are not 'on' the labels at all. If one is able to read "microscopic fine print", it would direct you to 'peel back' the rear label for further information... that is, as Lee suggests, if you can get it off.
He calls this "Criminally Deceptive" and therefore demands an "Immediate nationwide recall of all Monsanto products which carry this kind of labelling".
Franklin agrees that the labelling requires improvement but, in a response to Lee, she only eludes to steps being "underway to improve this (problem)...".
The lack of clear and direct action angers him. In a final missive, Lee holds Franklin personally responsible for any health ramifications:
"In choosing not to take immediate action you personally, as Executive Director of the (PMRA), are abusing your responsibility and risking the health and safety of Canadian children."
As he continues to hammer away at the Feds, Lee asks Canadians to be aware of the real hazards posed by improper storage or insufficient safeguards when applying Killex. He also urges homeowners to consider the myriad of "organic alternatives" to using pesticides. Afterall, you may be saving a child's life.