Pesticide bans: the Ontario experience

‘Fight it like the dickens,’ advises Ontario farm official


A representative of Ontario’s fruit and vegetable industry says Manitoba farmers should launch a robust campaign to halt a cosmetic pesticide ban in their province.

Otherwise, there could be grave consequences for Manitoba’s agricultural industry.

“Fight it like the dickens,” said Craig Hunter, crop protection and research specialist with the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. 

“Go right to the wall on the basis of good science… (because) it’s a slippery slope.”

He said Ontario’s farmers have been waiting “for the second penny to fall” since the provincial government banned cosmetic pesticides in 2009 as a public health measure. 

If the government can ban lawn and garden pesticides based on flimsy scientific evidence, he said, it could easily restrict the use of herbicides and insecticides on agricultural land.

“If they can do it there, they can do it somewhere else,” said Hunter.


He said most Ontario farmers believe the science behind the ban, linking pesticides to increased cancer risk, is weak or fraudulent. 

“If political decisions can trump science and currently the consequence is to home­owners, then there’s nothing to stopping the same group of people pushing this argument into commercial agriculture.”

Hunter said the ban has heightened consumer concerns about pesticide residues on food, although many Ontario residents are also defying the ban by buying herbicides and insecticides from farmers or American retailers.

A survey that CropLife Canada conducted last year found public support for the ban has slipped, said Nadine Sisk, the association’s executive director.

CropLife, which represents the plant science industry, found that less than half of homeowners supported the ban last summer, a significant drop from 2008 when polls suggested 80 percent of Ontarians favoured a ban.

Even though it’s illegal to buy or apply cosmetic pesticides in Ontario, the survey indicated that 42 percent of homeowners continued to apply leftover products and 13 percent were buying pesticides from other jurisdictions.


CropLife opposes the Ontario ban but supports Alberta’s approach to pesticide regulation, which bans weed and feed products that combine fertilizer and pesticides.

“Alberta has been clear that the safety of these products (pesticides) is not in question, it is the method of application that they preferred to see changed,” Sisk said.

Hunter said the Ontario government should have regulated the companies that apply cosmetic pesticides if it really wanted to encourage responsible pesticide use, rather than ban the sale of the products.

“(That way) the lawn spray guy can’t hire kids off the street to spray lawns and do gods knows what on land they don’t own and don’t care about.”

CropLife Canada members are also concerned that cosmetic pesticide bans symbolize a public policy disconnect with science. 

“Why would anyone invest in expensive innovations in places that don’t respect science?” Sisk asked.


  • I find the above item highly misleading. Ontario’s agriculture is entirely safe–there has never been an intent to apply any pesticide bans to the production of Ontario food. Urban pesticides are absorbed via inhalation and go directly to the brain, by-passing liver, the cleansing organ, whereas pesticide residues in food can be washed off and the remainder is cleansed by the liver. It is thus obvious that the toxic chemicals applied in the congested urban environment are much more dangerous to human health than pesticide residues in food. The risk to young children in the congested urban environment is especially unacceptable. (I am making an assumption here that responsible farmers keep their children away from the recently sprayed fields.) It is absolutely untrue that the Ontario pesticide ban was politically-based. This is merely the standard response of the pesticide industry and its representatives in Canada. Therefore, I am inclined to find the statements made by CropLife Canada entirely predictable and not to be trusted. Residents of Manitoba would be wise to take them with a great deal of salt! The alleged disconnect from science on the part of those promoting pesticide bans is a red herring. Obviously, the pesticide industry spokesmen are not qualified to monopolize science.

  • Cottam’s ASSERTIONS about the IMAGINARY DANGER of pest control products entering the body via inhalation or the skin are RIDICULOUS.
    Pest control products used in the Urban Landscape are ROUTINELY EXCRETED THROUGH THE URINARY TRACT IN AN UN-REACTED FORM.
    COTTAM is actually a designation for a group of Anti-Pesticide Ghost-Writers designed to DECEIVE the public ANONYMOUSLY.
    This group DECEIVES THE PUBLIC about the COTTAM name, just as they DECEIVE THE PUBLIC about the IMAGINARY DANGER of pest control products.
    Anti-Pesticide PROHIBITION has led to CATASTROPHIC CARNAGE for businesses operating in the Professional Lawn Care Industry.
    The 9|11 Era of Anti-Pesticide Terrorism is a HORROR created by the CONSPIRACY of ENVIRONMENTAL EVIL that has ANNIHILATED the Modern Professional Lawn Care Industry.
    Anti-Pesticide Activists, like COTTAM, CONSPIRE to PROHIBIT pest control products that are, in fact, HEALTH-CANADA-APPROVED, FEDERALLY-LEGAL, SCIENTIFICALLY-SAFE, and PRACTICALLY-NON-TOXIC.

    Cottam is, in fact, a name used by Enviro-Lunatic Ghost-Writers like Gideon Forman.
    For more information about Anti-Pesticide CARNAGE, go to the following link …

    For more information about COTTAM, go to the following links …



    NORAHG is the National Organization Responding Against HUJE that seek to harm the Green space industry.
    NORAHG is a NATIONAL NON PROFIT NON PARTISAN organization that does not accept money from corporations or governments or trade associations, and represents NO VESTED INTERESTS WHATSOEVER.
    NORAHG is dedicated to reporting the work of RESPECTED and HIGHLY RATED EXPERTS who promote ENVIRONMENTAL REALISM and PESTICIDE TRUTHS.


  • Eden Balfour

    So the rep from the Ontario fruit and veg growers is warning us… of something that hasn’t happened and may never happen, but he thinks it might? The slippery slope argument is a fallacy for a reason.

    Interesting that he doesn’t actually quote or refer to any specific scientific studies supporting his claims, as well. Although perhaps I should blame the reporter for not delving into this.