RBG Visitors Unwittingly Exposed To
- June 3, 2000
I, like many before me, have been enthralled by the beauty and
splendour of our very own Royal Botanical Gardens. Imagine my shock and horror
upon learning of the widespread use of pesticides throughout its many gardens
and upon the very lawns on which visitors and their children walk.. Further to
this, I also learned from RBG staff, that many (if not most) of these highly
visited areas no longer bear signs designating which pesticides were used and
when they were applied.
My stunning revelations began on the first
sunny day in weeks, as my 2 ½ year old daughter and I prepared for a
stroll through the RBG Rose Garden. I queried a young RBG staffer at the kiosk
about a single sign I spied noting recent pesticide use. "Nothing to worry
about" she announced confidently, "It's not even a pesticide...it's totally
safe, you can go ahead and walk on it." I subsequently learned that the lawns
upon which we and others were urged to walk, had been recently sprayed with
Monsanto's Roundup ( "glyphosate" ) has been cited for its clear
link to Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma" (Lennart Hardell, M.D., PHD., Mikael Eriksson,
M.D., PH.D. "A Case-Control Study of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Exposure to
Pesticides", Journal of the American Cancer Society, Volume 85, Number 6, March
15, 1999, Pages 1353-60) and Monsanto has been sued for misrepresentation of
Roundup's toxicity through advertising (Caroline Cox, "Herbicide Factsheet:
Glyphosate (Roundup)", Journal of Pesticide Reform, Fall 1998, Vol 18, No 3)
This begged a discussion with the RBG Maintenance Supervisor, Mr.
Grant McKeich. He confirmed that many of the gardens under RBG care are sprayed
with pesticides, including Roundup and fungicides, as a "tool" of
pest-management. Though he admitted knowledge of the myriad of studies
demonstrating links between pesticide use and a host of childhood and adult
cancers (as well as Parkinson's, behavioural/developmental abnormalities and
fetal anomalies: "Pesticides", House of Commons Standing Committee for the
Environment and Sustainable Development, May 16, 2000 ) , he believed he might
not be in a "legal" position to leave up signage that announces pesticide use
for any more than 2 days after application. This was a position on which he
seemed comfortable even in the face of information showing that pesticides,
including Roundup can remain in the soil for months and years ("Are we Roundup
Ready" by Dore Burry, School of Biological Sciences, University of Southern
California, Irvine, March 1998).
"If we left them all up... there would be
so many signs it would confuse people" says Mr. McKeich.
or scare them into not re-visiting?
Researchers and doctors are adamant
that children are the population most at risk from exposure to these chemicals.
This is a fact that frightens me silly as I reflect back on my daughter
innocently placing her fingers in her mouth shortly after exploring the very
garden that may well have been laced with pesticide residue.
all to read the House of Commons Standing Committee's report, "Pesticides...".
It clearly states that when weighing the benefits of cosmetic pesticides
against their known and suspected effects on human health, Health Must Come
Cosmetic pesticides must be banned now... for the sake of our
children. Please, RBG, take a tip from the thousands of Organic farmers and
gardeners across Canada, stop using pesticides and try a little ingenuity and
-Bernard Frazer, Canadians Against Pesticides