Canadians Against Pesticides - Editorial on RBG's USE of PESTICIDES
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RBG Visitors Unwittingly Exposed To Pesticides?
- June 3, 2000

I, like many before me, have been enthralled by the beauty and splendour of our very own Royal Botanical Gardens. Imagine my shock and horror upon learning of the widespread use of pesticides throughout its many gardens and upon the very lawns on which visitors and their children walk.. Further to this, I also learned from RBG staff, that many (if not most) of these highly visited areas no longer bear signs designating which pesticides were used and when they were applied.

My stunning revelations began on the first sunny day in weeks, as my 2 ½ year old daughter and I prepared for a stroll through the RBG Rose Garden. I queried a young RBG staffer at the kiosk about a single sign I spied noting recent pesticide use. "Nothing to worry about" she announced confidently, "It's not even a's totally safe, you can go ahead and walk on it." I subsequently learned that the lawns upon which we and others were urged to walk, had been recently sprayed with Roundup.
Monsanto's Roundup ( "glyphosate" ) has been cited for its clear link to Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma" (Lennart Hardell, M.D., PHD., Mikael Eriksson, M.D., PH.D. "A Case-Control Study of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and Exposure to Pesticides", Journal of the American Cancer Society, Volume 85, Number 6, March 15, 1999, Pages 1353-60) and Monsanto has been sued for misrepresentation of Roundup's toxicity through advertising (Caroline Cox, "Herbicide Factsheet: Glyphosate (Roundup)", Journal of Pesticide Reform, Fall 1998, Vol 18, No 3)

This begged a discussion with the RBG Maintenance Supervisor, Mr. Grant McKeich. He confirmed that many of the gardens under RBG care are sprayed with pesticides, including Roundup and fungicides, as a "tool" of pest-management. Though he admitted knowledge of the myriad of studies demonstrating links between pesticide use and a host of childhood and adult cancers (as well as Parkinson's, behavioural/developmental abnormalities and fetal anomalies: "Pesticides", House of Commons Standing Committee for the Environment and Sustainable Development, May 16, 2000 ) , he believed he might not be in a "legal" position to leave up signage that announces pesticide use for any more than 2 days after application. This was a position on which he seemed comfortable even in the face of information showing that pesticides, including Roundup can remain in the soil for months and years ("Are we Roundup Ready" by Dore Burry, School of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, Irvine, March 1998).
"If we left them all up... there would be so many signs it would confuse people" says Mr. McKeich.

Confuse them, or scare them into not re-visiting?
Researchers and doctors are adamant that children are the population most at risk from exposure to these chemicals. This is a fact that frightens me silly as I reflect back on my daughter innocently placing her fingers in her mouth shortly after exploring the very garden that may well have been laced with pesticide residue.

I urge all to read the House of Commons Standing Committee's report, "Pesticides...". It clearly states that when weighing the benefits of cosmetic pesticides against their known and suspected effects on human health, Health Must Come First.
Cosmetic pesticides must be banned now... for the sake of our children. Please, RBG, take a tip from the thousands of Organic farmers and gardeners across Canada, stop using pesticides and try a little ingenuity and elbow grease.

-Bernard Frazer, Canadians Against Pesticides