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Increased pesticides in the environment : Équiterre urges Quebec to ban the most dangerous ones

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Alarmed by Radio-Canada’s exclusive report, Quebec a perdu le contrôle des pesticides [Pesticides in Quebec are out of control], which shows increasing levels of pesticides in the environment, Équiterre is urging Quebec to ban pesticides that pose the greatest risk to health and the environment. In 1992, the government committed to reducing pesticide use by 50% by 2002—and failed miserably.

IN RIVERS IN AGRICULTURAL AREAS

According to the Ministry of Sustainable Development, the Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change, pesticides are omnipresent in rivers in agricultural areas. Many of those detected in surface water are known to have alarming impacts on health and the environment and are banned in Europe. Atrazine, for example, is a known endocrine disruptor. This means it can affect living creatures’ hormonal balance, and therefore potentially their growth, development and reproduction. A study conducted in 2010 by a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, revealed that following exposure to atrazine, 10% of male frogs developed female sex characteristics and 75% became sterile. There are also suspected links between exposure to atrazine and fetal growth restriction in humans. Atrazine has been banned throughout the European Union since 2004. Please sign the petition to ban atrazine here.

Large amounts of neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides known to contribute to the decline of bee colonies, have also been found in rivers in agricultural areas. They are also used for treating lawns in residential areas. Neonicotinoids may affect the human brain and nervous system, which is a concern for human health. Équiterre has already presented a petition with over 37,000 signatures to the Quebec government demanding a ban on neonics.

We’re now calling on the government to ban atrazine, and to implement zero tolerance for the use of pesticides for non-agricultural purposes, as is the case in Montreal and Ontario. Équiterre is also urging Quebec to increase support to farmers and provide tools so they can switch to more eco-friendly alternatives. Quebec must also introduce a pesticide tax that is differentiated according to the toxicity. This would send price signals and reduce the use of pesticides that are most harmful to health and the environment.