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STRONG argument

The Ontario government's announcement in April to ban the sale and cosmetic use of pesticides on lawns and gardens is a step in the right direction, but does not go far enough. If you live in northern Ontario, you will still be very much exposed to chemical herbicides, as the forest industry has been given a free pass to continue spraying vast quantities in our backyard.

Typically, government and industry would deny it's a health-for-profit trade-off or has any connection with my daughter's thyroid cancer, my niece's leukemia, or the fact that northern Ontario has one of the highest cancer rates in North America.

The boreal forest runs across the northern hemisphere of the globe. Both Quebec and Scandinavia have stopped the practice of using chemical herbicides in their forest. They now spend money on creating jobs for people, rather than chemicals and health care. Ontario alleges to have followed the lead from other jurisdictions which have successfully eliminated non-essential pesticides, but have ignored the fact that Quebec's forests have been chemical-free since 2001.

These chemicals migrate into the air, water, fish and wildlife, making their way into the food chain. Contaminated waters leaving Ontario's boreal forest flow into Manitoba, the Great Lakes, James Bay and the Ottawa River, and eventually find their way to our friends in the south.

It is beyond comprehension that Ontario's government recognizes that Killex (active ingredient, 2,4-D) and Roundup (active ingredient, glyphosate) have significant health and environmental impacts [and] therefore have banned them from urban communities, yet will allow the industry to continue poisoning us in the north in the face of alternatives. While this issue is out of sight, out of mind for most in southern Ontario, we in the north don't seem to matter.

What about treaty rights to eat uncontaminated fish, wildlife and berries, and drink clean water? Where was the consultation or consent from First Nations that will continue to be exposed to multiple non-essential chemical pesticides when the sole justification is a slight increase in shareholder profit margins for multinational corporations?

Pesticide migration is inevitable. Why are we ignoring the proven alternatives currently used in Quebec and Scandinavia to vegetation management in our forests?

Where does your drinking water come from?

- Al Simard

PresidentSaving the Region of OntarioNorth Group (STRONG)Kapuskasing, Ontario