Under new legislation to take effect from Wednesday, April 22 – Earth Day, an environmental awareness event – the cosmetic use of pesticides on lawns, gardens, cemeteries, parks and schools will be banned and products removed from the shelves.

John Gerretsen, Ontario environment minister, said: “We have fulfilled our commitment to ban the sale and use of cosmetic pesticides in Ontario.

“I’m proud to say that, when the ban takes effect on Earth Day, we will have eliminated this unnecessary risk to our environment, our families, and especially our children.”

The moves is the final step in the Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act, passed last year.

It covers a range of herbicides, fungicides and insecticides.

More than 250 pesticide products including Roundup, Killex and Weed and Feed will be taken off shop shelves and some 80 ingredients banned for use.

Lawn companies and homeowners will be prohibited from using them.

Exceptions include for public health or safety reasons such as fighting West Nile Virus, killing stinging insects, or controlling poison ivy and other plants poisonous to the touch.

Other exceptions include agriculture and forestry and golf courses.

Municipalities can apply to the Ministry of the Environment for exemptions to maintain sports fields for a national or international event.

Ontario is the second Canadian province to ban cosmetic pesticide use after Quebec in 2006, it is understood. The ban replaces existing municipal bylaws.

The environment ministry has said previously that the government “believes the use of pesticides to control pesky weeds and insects for purely cosmetic reasons is an unnecessary risk to our families and pets, especially when you can have a healthier lawn and garden without chemicals”.

It added: “We have listened to medical experts, who have made a convincing case for reducing our exposure to pesticides, particularly children who are generally more susceptible to the potential toxic effects of pesticides.”

But the ban has provoked resistance in some quarters, including the landscaping industry.

Pierre Petelle, director of regulatory affairs at Croplife Canada, a trade association representing manufacturers, developers and distributors of pest control products, said: “The main problem with these regulations is they arenÕt science-based. This will have an effect on innovation in developing new products.”

Supporters say non-toxic lawn care, which involves hand-weeding and is more labour-intensive, will spur job creation especially among young people looking for holiday work.

It is has reportedly already sparked a boom in mechanical weeding tool sales.

For more details visit the Ontario ministry of environment website @ www.ene.gov.on.ca

David Gibbs

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