Letters to the editor – July 3, 2014

HIGH RESEARCH STANDARDS

Re: “Pesticide research cuts ignore human health issues: biologist” (WP, May 29).

Alice Hontela is suggesting a study is required on the potential risks related to pesticide use.

However, Canada’s regulatory system already requires hundreds of studies, which are reviewed to ensure these products can be safely used.

The plant science industry takes its responsibility to protect human health and the environment very seriously. We are meticulous in our research, conducting hundreds of studies, which are reviewed by regulatory authorities around the world, to ensure that our products will safely enhance the ability of farmers to protect the food they grow.

Canada has established a world-class science-based process to evaluate pesticides, one that assures safeguards are in place to protect human health and the environment.

The reality is that Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency evaluates all pesticides to ensure they do not harm human health, future generations or the environment.

Readers should know that the ongoing Agricultural Health Study in the U.S., which tracks 89,000 individuals, showed that farmers and their spouses actually have much lower rates of mortality from cardiovascular disease, diabetes and total cancer compared to others of the same age living in the area.

Regulators have an obligation to ensure that their decisions are founded on the best available scientific information.

As science evolves and new information becomes available, products are re-evaluated to ensure they continue to meet the latest health and environmental risk assessment standards.

Ms. Hontela speaks of the risks vs. benefits, but the reality is Health Canada will not approve any product, no matter the benefits, if the risks are deemed unacceptable.

In fact, pesticides have never been safer. They are applied at ever-decreasing rates and are much more targeted than ever before. Canadians should have peace of mind in knowing that all pest control products are highly researched and regulated.

Ted Menzies, president
CropLife Canada
Ottawa, Ont.

COST OF LIVING

The politicians and statisticians all blandly tell us that the cost of living is staying “comfortably under the two percent increase range.” What planet do they live on?

In my world, I have found that everything I have to buy just to live has increased one-third in the last year.

We are not talking here of the newest model car or the new house or the cruise to tropic islands. I am talking about the ability just to survive without any frills, or emergency expenditures, to feed and clothe a family and try to evade the advertising of useless junk that is everywhere you look.

Working people are no longer able to think in terms of saving, because mere survival takes it all, notwithstanding all the fancy figures we are fed.

Jean H. Sloan,
Lloydminster, Sask.

EDUCATION NEEDS

There is an ugly and protracted battle going on between B.C.’s teachers and provincial government, and as predictable as those conflicts are, so must follow endless public hand-wringing about the fate of the children and the potential dire impacts of a disrupted education.

The majority of the world can only look at our situation and think: “we should be so lucky”.

Currently, 57 million primary grade kids are out of school. Barely half of all countries are expected to provide primary education by next year.

Yet it used to be much worse. Due to the efforts of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and donors like Canada, since 1999 the number of uneducated children worldwide has been halved.

A good example is Afghanistan: the number of children attending school has gone from one to 11.5 million, and almost half are girls.

But the need is enormous, and later this month the GPE is slated for renewed funding and is facing an annual shortfall of $26 billion.

Canada needs to double its current commitment of $60 million if the GPE is to achieve its goal.

Compared to B.C., the challenges facing education in the rest of the world are far more dire. But while B.C.’s education issues are complex, this one is very simple.

The (Stephen) Harper government doubling it’s commitment will help ensure that the GPE reaches those final 57 million kids.

Nathaniel Poole,
Victoria, B.C.