Green Action Centre: perspectives on beauty


As a welcome addition to the dialogue on beautiful green spaces and how they are created and maintained, Green Action Centre offers some reflection on what ‘beautiful’ is, and how it comes to be.

A worthwhile read!


Provincial Consultation on Cosmetic Pesticides – Your input is needed!


The provincial government has re-opened debate on the cosmetic pesticide ban. Please follow the Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Working Group Facebook page for updates, and let the government know that you support the ban. Comments can be sent to until Sept.12.

For more information, see this recent letter from CAPE, this article on the problems with Roundup/glyphosate, or Peter Denton’s impassioned plea for policy based on sound science.

Regarding our habitual over-reliance on pesticides, it is also worth noting that Health Canada reminded us this spring that your lawn doesn’t need pesticides, and the City of Winnipeg found that 50% of Winnipeg’s mosquito population is due to standing water on private property. We need not jump so quickly to spraying toxic chemicals, when a little care and proper maintenance would do the job.

Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Announced for Manitoba!

pesticide ban announcementManitoba’s NDP government announced on Friday, June 28th, that a cosmetic pesticide ban will be introduced in the fall session, to come into effect at the end of 2014 with a one year grace period.  The proposed ban will include lawns, driveways, sidewalks, patios, school grounds, playing fields and playgrounds.

Of course we are very happy that the Provincial Government has proposed a ban, many of our coalition members and other Manitobans have been working on this for many years.  Our work is not over, however, until legislation is passed and comes into effect.  Industry is sure to be putting the pressure on the Government to delay or reduce the ban’s effectiveness.

pesticide ban announcement 2It is still important to call Gord Mackintosh (204-945-3730) or your MLA to let them know that you support a cosmetic pesticide ban, and to thank them for planning to introduce the ban .  There will also be consultations in the fall so we will be attending those and we ask that you will as well.  Watch our website and Facebook page for more information and dates and times.

Thanks for your continued support!


Spring Update

Greetings, my name is Leah Goertzen and I am the new pesticide campaign coordinator for Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba. I am a University of Manitoba graduate student specializing in community based health initiatives facilitated by participatory action research. I support the cosmetic pesticide ban because scientific evidence reveals a ban will substantially reduce human and environmental exposure to unnecessary toxins.

I have joined the Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba (CPBM) coalition during a critical time in the campaign. Pesticide season is upon us yet there is no confirmed government action to ban these toxins. Recent polls indicate 71% of Manitobans support the ban yet there are signs that the government is wavering on the issue. As a coalition of concerned citizens, we need to act now by contacting our MLAs to confirm citizen support for this ban. Please visit the CPBM website to learn how you can affect change now.

Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba Meet and Greet

CPBMB would like to thank all the supporters who came out to our Meet and Greet on April 2. We had a great turn out and were happy with all the networking and exchanging of ideas that happened.  We were able to raise enough money to pay for the appetizers and give some money to Canadian Physicians for the Environment to help pay for the Oracle Poll they initiated.Image

Momentum is still going strong and we are hiring for a Cosmetic Pesticide Educator to continue on with the work and campaigning that needs to happen to create awareness about this important issue.

Our meeting with Gord Mackintosh went well, we still don’t have an update but we learned that Minister Mackintosh is doing a lot of research and work around the issue of cosmetic pesticides and is open to what Manitobans have to say about it.  He indicated that the NDP members of caucus will have input in the development of the legislation or regulation development, which means it is more important than ever to contact your MLA.

For those who questioned the validity of the CAPE poll, the WFP commissioned their own poll which yielded similar results.  Manitoba is ready for a Cosmetic Pesticide Ban, and they deserve one.

If you would like more information please contact

New poll shows 71% of Manitobans want lawn pesticides gone.

71% of Manitobans want lawn pesticides gone

Rural and urban voters support ban; say pesticides threaten lakes

For Immediate Release – February 26, 2013

(Winnipeg, MB) Polling results released today indicate a large majority of Manitobans – 71% – support a law that would phase-out the use and sale of lawn and garden pesticides across the province. The survey shows broad support with rural, urban, and suburban residents agreeing at 86%, 72%, and 68% respectively, that cosmetic pesticides should be barred from use and sale. This is the first scientific poll on pesticides since the issue came up for debate last year.

“It’s clear Manitobans want and deserve the same protection from these unnecessary toxins as the millions of Canadians across Canada where provincial bans are already in place,” said Farrah Khan, a campaigner with the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment. Lawn and garden pesticides are already banned in six provinces from Ontario to Newfoundland. “Strong provincial legislation will take these poisons off store shelves and protect our most vulnerable population – our kids – from getting sick.”

This confirmation of public support is welcome news for the coalition known as Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba, who together with more than 25 local and national health and environment groups have called for a provincial ban on lawn and garden pesticides.

According to Winnipeg-based emergency physician, Dr. Paul Doucet, “peer-reviewed science consistently shows links between pesticide exposure and childhood cancer, birth defects, neurological problems, respiratory illness, and more. When non-toxic options are readily available, we should not put our health at risk simply for the appearance of a lawn.”

The new poll also reveals 77% of Manitobans see pesticides as a threat to the environment, including wildlife, air quality, and lakes; and 71% see lawn pesticides as a health threat to pets.

Earlier this month, Lake Winnipeg was named the world’s most threatened lake for 2013. Reducing toxic run-off is essential to protecting this and other water bodies across the province. Josh Brandon, communications coordinator at the Green Action Centre explains, “It’s no secret lawn pesticides are polluting our ecosystems. We hope the government will take action now to protect our lakes – while we still can.”

The polling was conducted by Oraclepoll Research. It involved a telephone survey of 498 Manitoba residents. The margin of error is +/- 4.4% 19/20 times.


For more information, contact:

Farrah Khan, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE)

(w) 416-306-2273 (c) 647-886-2189

Josh Brandon, Green Action Centre and Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba

(w) (204) 898-6460(c) 204-898-6460

Precaution on cosmetic pesticides calls for ban

Winnipeg Free Press – PRINT EDITION

By: Debbie Pollock

Posted: 1:00 AM | Comments: 0g

Eco-friendly products can substitute for cosmetic pesticides.


DARREN STONE / TIMES COLONIST Archives Eco-friendly products can substitute for cosmetic pesticides.

As a medical doctor, I feel a responsibility not only to improve the health of my individual patients but to help protect the health of our community by protecting the larger environment. As the mother of an eight-year-old boy, I feel that it is important to protect my son from unnecessary exposure to toxic lawn and garden pesticides in the environment.

Six provinces — Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador — and 160 municipalities have already implemented a cosmetic pesticide ban. The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment has led an extremely successful anti-pesticide campaign across Canada in recent years.

Now, Manitobans, have the opportunity to support a ban on cosmetic lawn and garden pesticides in our province. The Manitoba government has released a discussion paper regarding a potential ban on non-essential pesticides entitled Play it Safe: A Consultation on Cosmetic Lawn Pesticides. The deadline for public consultation is Oct. 1.

Why should we ban cosmetic pesticide use in Manitoba?

Pesticides are toxic chemicals that harm human health and the environment. Pesticides are among the most widely used chemicals in the world and also among the most dangerous to human health. Pesticides for lawn and garden care are a broad range of chemicals that include: herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. They are a leading cause of poisonings here in Canada and have been estimated to account for thousands of deaths each year globally.

The pesticide literature review released by the Ontario College of Family Physicians in 2012, showed “consistent associations between reproductive, respiratory and neurological problems in humans and pesticide exposure.” Also, the current body of knowledge suggests a connection between pesticides and cancer.

Cosmetic pesticide use is a public health issue, particularly for children. It is well established that children are at a greater risk from pesticide exposure than adults. Children represent a vulnerable and sensitive group because their bodies and physiological systems are still undergoing substantial growth and development. In addition, children are often more exposed to environmental health risks because of their particular behaviours and activity at each developmental stage.

Since non-essential cosmetic pesticides have the potential to cause harm and have no health benefits, it is prudent to take a precautionary approach. The precautionary principle states that when an activity poses a threat to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even when the cause and effect relationship is not fully established scientifically.

It is unnecessary to use potentially harmful chemicals to maintain beautiful properties. There are safe, natural alternatives and many non-toxic products on the market. Organic lawn care products and practices such as aeration, over seeding and mowing high can help produce healthy green lawns without the use of pesticides.

In 1948, the World Health Organization defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.” Since then, we have come to a better understanding of the place of humans within the global ecosystem. Today, health is a state of complete physical, mental, social and ecological well-being. Ultimately, our health depends upon the health of the ecosystem of which we are a part.

In a world of multiple chemical exposures, we must remove needless risks from cosmetic pesticides. We must protect our health and that of our children and future generations by protecting the health of our planet.

Manitobans deserve the protection from pesticides already enjoyed by millions of other Canadians. I would strongly encourage the public to send a letter to Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh and Health Minister Theresa Oswald asking for a pesticide ban in Manitoba.


Winnipegger Debbie Pollock is member of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, whose mandate is to protect human health by protecting the planet.


Silent Spring: 50 years later

Winnipeg Free Press

In 1962, a toxic cloud of controversy surrounded Rachel Carson’s landmark book. Has anything really changed since then?

By: William Souder

Posted: 09/8/2012 1:00 AM | Comments: 0g

Rachel Carson with wildlife artist Bob Hines in the Florida Keys around 1955. Her book turns 50 this September, and the arguments over it continue to rage.


Rachel Carson with wildlife artist Bob Hines in the Florida Keys around 1955. Her book turns 50 this September, and the arguments over it continue to rage.

GRANT, Minn. — Silent Spring, Rachel Carson’s landmark warning about the indiscriminate use of pesticides, turns 50 this month. By extension, that puts the environmental movement also at the half-century mark — along with the bitter, divisive argument we continue to have over both the book and the movement it spawned.

The terms of that argument, which emerged in the brutal reaction to Silent Spring from those who saw it not as a warning but as a threat, haven’t changed much. And they leave us with a vexing question: Why do we fight? How is it that the environment we all share is the subject of partisan debate? After all, the right and the left inhabit the same planet, even if it doesn’t always seem that way.

Carson’s book was controversial before it even was a book. In June 1962, three long excerpts were published by the New Yorker. They alarmed the public, which deluged the Department of Agriculture and other agencies with demands for action and outraged the chemical industry and its allies in government. In late August 1962, after he was asked about pesticides at a press conference, then-president John F. Kennedy ordered his science adviser to form a commission to investigate the problems brought to light, the president said, by “Miss Carson’s book.” A month later, when Silent Spring was published, the outlines of the fight over pesticides had hardened. Armed with a substantial war chest, pesticide-makers launched an attack aimed at discrediting Silent Spring and destroying its author.

The offensive included a widely distributed parody of Carson’s famous opening chapter about a town where no birds sang and countless fact sheets extolling the benefits of pesticides to human health and food production. Silent Spring was described as one-sided and unbalanced to any media that would listen. Some did. Time magazine called the book “hysterical” and “patently unsound.”

Carson’s critics pushed her to the left end of the political spectrum, to a remote corner of the freaky fringe that at the time included organic farmers, food faddists and anti-fluoridationists. One pesticide-maker, which threatened to sue if Silent Spring was published, was more explicit: Carson, the company claimed, was in league with “sinister parties” whose goal was to undermine American agriculture and free enterprise to further the interests of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites. The word Communist — in 1962 the most potent of insults — wasn’t used, but it was understood. Silent Spring, said its more ardent detractors, was un-American.

And there the two sides sit 50 years later. On one side of the environmental debate are the perceived soft-hearted scientists and those who would preserve the natural order; on the other are the hard pragmatists of industry and their friends in high places, the massed might of the establishment. Substitute climate change for pesticides, and the argument plays out the same now as it did a half-century ago. President Kennedy’s scientific commission would ultimately affirm Carson’s claims about pesticides, but then as now, nobody ever really gives an inch.

Carson was also accused of having written a book that, though it claimed to be concerned with human health, would instead contribute directly to death and disease on a massive scale by stopping the use of the insecticide DDT in the fight against malaria. One irate letter to the New Yorker complained Carson’s “mischief” would make it impossible to raise the funds needed to continue the effort to eradicate malaria, and its author wondered if the magazine’s legendary standards for accuracy and fairness had fallen.

The claim that Rachel Carson is responsible for the devastations of malaria, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, has gained renewed traction in recent years. The American Enterprise Institute and other free-market conservatives have defended the safety and efficacy of DDT — and the claim of Carson’s “guilt” in the deaths of millions of Africans is routinely parroted by people who are clueless about the content of Silent Spring or the sources of the attacks now made against it. The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a limited-government, free-enterprise think-tank, maintains the website, which details Carson’s complicity in the continuing plague of malaria. In 2004, the late writer Michael Crichton offered a bite-sized and easy-to-remember indictment of Carson’s crime: “Banning DDT,” Crichton wrote, “killed more people than Hitler.” This was dialogue in a novel, but in interviews Crichton made it clear this was what he believed.

Carson, who stoically weathered misinformation campaigns against her before her death from breast cancer in 1964, would find the current situation all too predictable. As she said once in a speech after the release of Silent Spring, many people who have not read the book nonetheless “disapprove of it heartily.”

Rachel Carson never called for the banning of pesticides. She made this clear in every public pronouncement, repeated it in an hour-long television documentary about Silent Spring, and even testified to that effect before the U.S. Senate. Carson never denied there were beneficial uses of pesticides, notably in combating human diseases transmitted by insects, where she said they had not only been proven effective but were morally “necessary.”

“It is not my contention,” Carson wrote in Silent Spring, “that chemical insecticides must never be used. I do contend that we have put poisonous and biologically potent chemicals indiscriminately into the hands of persons largely or wholly ignorant of their potentials for harm. We have subjected enormous numbers of people to contact with these poisons, without their consent and often without their knowledge.”

Many agreed. Editorializing shortly after the New Yorker articles appeared, the New York Times wrote that Carson had struck the right balance: “Miss Carson does not argue that chemical pesticides must never be used,” the Times said, “but she warns of the dangers of misuse and overuse by a public that has become mesmerized by the notion that chemists are the possessors of divine wisdom and that nothing but benefits can emerge from their test tubes.”

Carson did not seek to end the use of pesticides — only their heedless overuse at a time when it was all but impossible to escape exposure to them. Aerial insecticide-spraying campaigns over forests, cities and suburbs; the routine application of insecticides to crops by farmers at concentrations far above what was considered “safe;” and the residential use of insecticides in everything from shelf paper to aerosol “bombs” had contaminated the landscape in exactly the same manner as the fallout from the then-pervasive testing of nuclear weapons — a connection Carson made explicit in Silent Spring.

“In this now-universal contamination of the environment,” Carson wrote, “chemicals are the sinister and little-recognized partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world — the very nature of its life.”

The Competitive Enterprise Institute — to its credit — acknowledges Carson did not call for the banning of pesticides in Silent Spring. But they claim Carson’s caveat about their value in fighting disease was so overwhelmed by her general disapproval of their use that “negative publicity” around Silent Springhalted the use of DDT against malaria, notably in sub-Saharan Africa, where some 90 per cent of the world’s malaria cases occur.

It’s true that Carson found little good to say about DDT, but it’s a stretch to see how the mood surrounding Silent Spring was the prime cause of DDT’s exit from the fight against malaria. And, as the New York Times and other publications proved, it was understood by anyone who took time to read Silent Spring that Carson was not an absolutist seeking to stop all pesticide use.

DDT had been effective against malaria in Europe, in Northern Africa, in parts of India and southern Asia, and even in the southern United States, where the disease was already being routed by other means. But these were mostly developed areas. Using DDT in places such as sub-Saharan Africa, with its remote and hard-to-reach villages, had long been considered problematic. It was an old story and one still repeated: Africa was everybody’s lowest priority.

And in any case, the World Health Organization had begun to question its malaria-eradication program even before Silent Spring was published. One object lesson was that the heavy use of DDT in many parts of the world was producing new strains of mosquitoes resistant to the insecticide. Much as it can happen with antibiotics, the use of an environmental poison clears susceptible organisms from the ecosystem and allows those with immunity to take over.

When the recently created Environmental Protection Agency banned DDT for most domestic uses in 1972, this ruling had no force in other parts of the world and the insecticide remained part of the international anti-malaria arsenal. The United States continued to manufacture and export DDT until the mid-1980s, and it has always been available from pesticide-makers in other countries.

One result is that DDT is still with us — globally adrift in the atmosphere from spraying operations in various parts of the world, and also from its continuing volatilization from soils in which it has lain dormant for decades. The threat of DDT to wildlife — as a deadly neurotoxin in many species and a destroyer of reproductive capabilities in others — has never been in doubt. Carson’s claims in Silent Spring about DDT’s connection to human cancer and other disorders have not been completely resolved. The National Toxicology Program lists DDT as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” The same holds for two of its common breakdown products, DDD and DDE, which are also suspected of causing developmental problems in humans.

These are cloudy but worrisome presumptions. DDT is stored in fat tissues — including ours — and that storage amplifies with repeated exposures over time, as well as through food chains, with unpredictable consequences. We walk around with our personal body burden of DDT, a poison we still consume both from its decades-old residuals and its ongoing uses. If Rachel Carson hoped to end the use of DDT and our exposure to it, she did a lousy job.

In 2006, the World Health Organization announced a renewed commitment to fighting malaria with DDT, mainly in Africa — where the WHO had never lifted its approval for this purpose. Environmental groups backed the move, as Rachel Carson surely would have had she been with us still.


— Slate

Manitoba College of Family Physicians signs on!

Great news! Manitoba College of Family Physicians has signed on to our call for a strong ban on cosmetic pesticides.  It is very important that the medical community show their support publicly since the opposition claims these chemicals are safe to use since Health Canada regulates them.  Please see our page, “why ban cosmetic pesticides” for more information.

A Great Letter to the Minister

Honourable Gord Mackintosh

September 26, 2012
Room 330, Legislative Building

450 Broadway
Winnipeg, MB R3C 0V8

Dear Minister Mackintosh:

I am writing to you as someone who had to move away from Winnipeg due to pesticide spraying.  I ask you to support a cosmetic pesticide ban for Manitoba.
I have lived with a medical condition called Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, or Environmental Illness for over twenty years.  I raised my family in Manitoba, mostly in Winnipeg, and had to move away in 2006 in order to preserve my health.  As you might imagine, I miss my family deeply.   I can only visit during the
months that no pesticides will be used (mid-October to end March).

The degree to which my health has improved since leaving Manitoba has astounded me.  While I remain
‘sensitive’, I am much less so, and my overall heath is more reliable.
People in Thunder Bay and Toronto are surprised to learn of the spraying that occurs in Winnipeg.  Meanwhile, there is such a strong culture of pesticide use in Manitoba, that people in Winnipeg suppose that spraying must be happen in Ontario.  Yet there has been a province-wide ban on cosmetic pesticide use here since 2007.  I believe it is up to the elected representatives to respond to the now prolific scientific evidence against the use of cosmestic pesticides, and to show leadership in promoting a fresh and healthy attitude towards outdoor air quality.

I would like to return to Manitoba, but will be able to do so only after a cosmetic pesticide ban is in place, the public educated, and the ban enforced.  For me, this would include organophosphates (e.g. Dursban, Malathion) as well as glyphosphates (e.g. Roundup).

As someone whose body is like a ‘canary in the coalmine’, I can vouch for the positive impacts on human health of an effective cosmetic pesticide ban.   I urge you to work towards such a ban in Manitoba.

Thank you for your attention.


Yours truly,

Robin Faye
c.c. Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba