Group stakes white flags in Laval park in campaign to ban pesticides

Vigilance OGM says they mimic those used to indicate pesticides have just been sprayed and “to remind us of the level of our exposure to pesticides.”

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About 500 small white flags symbolically dotted part of Bernard-Landry Park in Laval on Saturday morning to call on elected officials and municipal candidates in the coming elections to ban pesticides for aesthetic purposes on their territories.


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The initiative lead by Vigilance OGM also aimed to congratulate the city of Laval, which became the first Quebec municipality to ban the use of glyphosate and neonicotinoid-based pesticides on lawns in the spring.

The city’s goal is to “protect human health, pollinators, wildlife and natural environments.”

Vigilance OGM, a non-profit organization, hopes other municipalities will follow suit to prevent people from being unnecessarily exposed to the products.

“If Laval did it, we can do it in all other Quebec municipalities,” said Laure Mabileau, responsible for the Sortir du glyphosate campaign for Vigilance OGM. “Laval is grappling with the same issues. There is no real reason not to move forward.”

The installation of the white flags mimics those used to indicate pesticides have just been sprayed.


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“This is to remind us of the level of our exposure to pesticides,” Mabileau said.

Vigilance OGM said “studies show pesticides’ link with the appearance of certain diseases, like Parkinson’s, cancers, cognitive issues and other health problems.”

In 2015, the World Health Organization called glyphosate a probable carcinogen.

Vigilance OGM suggests municipalities adopt regulations already in force for daycares and schools, which use biopesticides instead. The centres have a white list of authorized products that are safe.

Laval has experienced a good transition since it implemented the ban, according to its deputy mayor, Stéphane Boyer, who supported the group’s action Saturday.

“The citizens welcomed the measure, we received a lot of congratulations,” he said. “Very few negative comments. We’ve been talking about the negative impacts of pesticides for a long time, it’s time to act.”


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“Health is much more important than having a beautiful lawn, especially since there are other ways to keep it beautiful,” Boyer added.

Laval still authorizes the use of biopesticides and low-impact products for ecological maintenance.

The city has not been under undue pressure from the industry, but some companies have pointed out they are dealing with an inventory problem since they have glyphosate in stock for the coming year, Boyer said.

He hopes others will follow Laval’s example. So far, Drummondville and Montreal both announced intentions to ban pesticides on their territories.

The white flags could appear in other Quebec municipalities over the next few weeks to raise awareness among elected officials and candidates.


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If the agricultural sector is the largest user of pesticides, the municipal world also has a role to play in the issue by regulating its aesthetic use, Vigilance OGM believes.

“The prospect of having effective and rapid changes in terms of the environment, right now, is at the municipal level,” Mabileau said.

In her opinion, it’s currently difficult to see action from federal and provincial governments on the issue.

“It seems like they’re under the lobbies,” Mabileau said, citing recent proposals from Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency as an example. The agency is considering increasing the maximum residue limits of glyphosate that can remain on certain foods such as nuts and legumes.

The proposal stems from an application by Bayer, the owner of Monsanto, which produces the herbicide Roundup that contains glyphosate. The agency is also studying a request from the company Syngenta to increase traces of pesticides on certain berries, Radio-Canada revealed.

As a result of an outcry over the proposals, Health Canada had to extend its public consultation period until Sept. 3.

Vigilance OGM has prepared a tool for the public to facilitate participation in the consultation.

Mabileau said products contain several pesticides, not just glyphosate, creating a “cocktail” to which people are exposed.



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