Man. farmers worry pesticide ban will hike weed spread 

Control begins in urban areas The development of invasive weeds often starts in urban gardens and spreads to farmers’ fields

An environmentalist lobbying for a cosmetic pesticide ban in Manitoba isn’t convinced most provincial residents want a ban on lawn and garden chemicals.

Amanda Kinden, manager of the organic lawn care educational project for the Manitoba Eco-Network, said people in the province want parks, lawns and school grounds to look green and well kept. Most think herbicides are needed to achieve a tidy look, so unless there is definitive proof that pesticides are a risk to human health, Manitobans will probably oppose a ban, Kinden said.

“Probably, people would see it as more work and a problem rather than a benefit to them,” she said.

In February, conservation minister Gord Mackintosh said he wanted to introduce legislation to ban cosmetic pesticides. However, he also said the province would consult with interested parties to develop a made-in-Manitoba policy before implementing the ban.

A spokesperson for the minister said details of the consultation process will be announced in the next few weeks. Regulatory changes prompted by consultation could be introduced in the legislature’s fall session.

Keystone Agricultural Producers, the Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM) and the Manitoba Weed Supervisors Association have denounced the proposed ban.

Despite the backlash and the lack of widespread public support, Kinden said Manitoba will eventually ban cosmetic pesticides.


“Given that we are one of the last provinces that doesn’t have a cosmetic pesticide ban, one will be likely. Whether it’s next year or in a couple of years, I feel it’s going to happen.”

However, many Manitoba farmers believe a ban will affect their livelihoods. As an example, producers in the Rural Municipality of MacDonald are already frustrated because communities in the RM don’t manage weeds properly, said Doug Dobrowolski, AMM president and a grain producer near Domain, Man. 

“Farmers that farm around the schoolyard are all mad because nobody is spraying the dandelions and the weeds are all blowing into their fields… You’re seeing this right across the landscape.”

John Johnston of Hartney, Man., president of the Manitoba Weed Supervisors Association, said killing invasive species with pesticides inside communities is a key part of a larger strategy to control weeds. 

A lot of the urban areas can be a sinkhole for the development of invasive weeds,” he said. “Common tansy, purple loosestrife, oxeye daisy, they’re all escaped ornamentals…. So if they’re not controlled in the urban areas and the smaller communities, they quickly become a seed bank to spread (the species).”


  • K. Jean Cottam, PhD

    I am surprised that anyone involved in organic lawn care would be so negative about pesticide bans. Sounds really phony to me. Of course, there is proof that pesticides are endangering health. The widely used 2,4-D formed part of Agent Orange and is contaminated with toxic dioxin, says whistle-blower employed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to biochemist Meg Sears, 2,4-D’s estrogenic activity promotes breast cancer and androgenic activity promotes prostate cancer, as ignored by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). See Sears’ Notice of Objection to Registration Decision of 2,4-D, 2008. Proper pesticide-free lawn care keeps dandelions out. Topdress, overseed, mow high–your turf will prosper. I seldom have a single dandelion on my suburban turf in Ottawa.

    • jimjimny

      I am sure you know what you are talking about and Agent Orange is certainly proven to be dangerous.
      It is my belief that the 2-4D sold today is a much better refined version and there is a question as to why it needs to be included in lawn-care products at all.
      As the manufacturers usually rack prices twenty time to Gardeners they could easily use more specific weedkillers.

  • K. Jean Cottam, PhD

    I just commented–where is my comment? Why is environmentalist so negative about the Manitoba public’s lack of commitment to province-wide pesticide ban for cosmetic purposes? By the way, invasive weeds are exempt from pesticide bans, for example in Ontario. A pesticide-free lawn need not be covered by dandelions. Mine isn’t. Topdress, overseed, apply Dutch clover, cut high and you will have a beautiful lawn.

  • Pragmatic in Manitoba

    Instead of faithfully repeating the pesticide industry’s old arguments, the KAP, the AMM and the MWSA need to consult with officials in Quebec where healthy green spaces have been successfully managed under a progressive pesticide management code since 2003. For more details, see