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CAPS BULLETIN - December, 2000
World Wildlife Fund announced the introduction of its "Ecological" brand produce, this week. The apples and potatoes are said to be grown with "fewer pesticides" and are the long awaited result of a WWF partnership with farmers from Ontario, PEI, New Brunswick an Alberta.
WWF's effort to shift the agricultural paradigm away from pesticides is applauded, but reducing the number of pesticides or frequency they are sprayed is simply not enough to herald an all out victory for Canadians, especially Canadian children. This shift is minor at best. It is NOT significantly lessening a child's overall exposure to pesticides in the food chain and makes no guarantee that the most hazardous of these toxins (insecticides & fungicides) will be eliminated from use.
The public must realize that simply stamping an "Ecological" label on an apple, does not mean a child will avoid contact with potentially carcinogenic substances. Savvy consumers will realize that this new line of products is a far cry from being "organic".
Kudos to WWF for attempting to turn the tide with an industry that clings to pesticides like a magic bullet. However, their time and money would be better spent on public awareness. Canadians must be informed of the real danger that multiple and cumulative pesticide exposure poses, especially to children. Their money would also be better spent on lobbying the Liberal government for immediate, profound and sweeping change to the decrepit Pest Control Products Act. This Act has been endangering the lives of Canadians (through its careless approach to public safety), for over thirty years.
A change in agricultural methodology is long overdue, but farmers will continue to use old, unsafe methods as long as the government (in its inaction) and the public (in its ignorance) allow them. Farmers will not have any real incentive to augment their practices unless the market or the law dictates.
For the good of the nation's children, the public must become involved and demand that Jean Chretien make REAL and IMMEDIATE change to the PCPA!
The following is WWF's full press release:
Thursday, November 30, 2000.
FARMERS AND WORLD WILDLIFE FUND INTRODUCE
"ECOLOGICAL" PRODUCE TO MAJOR RETAIL OUTLETS --
PROVING THAT PESTICIDE REDUCTION IS POSSIBLE.
(Toronto: November 30, 2000) Apple and potato growers, in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF), are launching "ecological" produce in major retail outlets across the country. These apples and potatoes, grown with fewer pesticides, are available through selected major retail outlets and through FoodShare Toronto.
"Concerned about the growing evidence of the harmful impacts of pesticides on wildlife and the environment, World Wildlife Fund is rolling up its sleeves to work with growers on pesticide reduction," Kevin Kavanagh, Director of WWF’s National Program, told a news conference today at the FoodShare Toronto warehouse. "This unique partnership proves that pesticide reduction is possible. Wildlife, people, and the environment in general will benefit."
Kavanagh was joined at the news conference by Pirmin Kummer, a potato grower from Timber River, New Brunswick, who has been a leading advocate of reduced pesticide use on crops in the Maritimes.
"Reducing our exposure to the chemicals that make their way into our air, food and water simply makes good sense for everyone," said Kummer. "As a potato grower I take delight in the fact that more and more producers are looking for ways to reduce pesticide use."
"Our organization applauds the links that are developing among WWF, growers, retailers and consumers. This represents real progress in the effort to reduce the use of pesticides and their harmful impacts on the environment," said Debbie Field, executive director of FoodShare Toronto, an organization that works with communities to improve access to affordable healthy food from field to table.
Over the past five years, WWF has worked in the field with apple growers in Ontario’s Simcoe County, Beaver Valley, and Durham Region and with potato growers in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Alberta. With assistance from provincial departments of agriculture, this program encourages an ecological approach to farming that maintains yields and growers’ income, while protecting wildlife and wildlife habitat.
Farmers employ a number of growing practices proven to reduce the need for pesticides, including improving plant nutrition, careful monitoring and attracting beneficial organisms that control pests. Pesticides are used only when absolutely necessary. Farmers keep detailed records and are subject to annual third-party inspections. The program works to achieve continuous improvement, with ecological practices being upgraded every year.
Consumers are demanding action on pesticide reduction. A poll by Vector Research and Development done this year for WWF indicates that almost 75 per cent of respondents want reduced pesticides in food, even if it means paying higher prices. The poll also found that eight out of 10 Canadians support government assistance for farmers to make the transition to fewer pesticides. An October 2000 Environics poll indicates Canadians consider reducing pesticides in food, water and soil more important than cutting personal taxes (75% versus 20%) or corporate taxes (86% versus 9%).
WWF is urging the new Canadian Government to support ecological agriculture as a key component of a truly sustainable economy and environment. This support should include transition funding for farmers as they reduce their reliance on pesticides, and amendments to the outdated Pest Control Products Act (PCPA).
At least 50 million kilograms of pesticides are used in Canada each year. Seventy per cent of these are applied to crops that humans and livestock eat.
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For more information please contact:
Gregory Hamara, Manager, Media Relations, WWF, at (416) 489-4567 ext. 276
Lori Stahlbrand, Pesticide Reduction Outreach Coordinator, at (416) 694-7605
WWF’s ecological agriculture project has been generously supported by the EJLB Foundation.
For more information about pesticide reduction, please visit WWF Canada at www.wwf.ca.
WWF’s mission is to stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by