Two Canadian environmental groups are suing the federal government over the ongoing use of pest-control products containing three pesticides banned in Europe: chlorthal-dimethyl, trifluralin and trichlorfon.
Ecojustice lawyers, acting on behalf of Équiterre and the David Suzuki Foundation, have filed a lawsuit alleging that the Minister of Health and the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) acted unlawfully when they refused to review the approval of the pesticides.
The pesticides are banned in Europe due to their impact on the environment and human health.
“This case is about ensuring that the Government of Canada protects its citizens and the environment from harmful pesticides,” said Ecojustice senior scientist Dr. Elaine MacDonald in an August 27, 2013 statement to media. “Other countries have banned these pesticides because they are extremely toxic and degrade the environment, so why is Canada still allowing their use?”
The lawsuit also challenges the PMRA’s unreasonable delay in responding to review requests submitted in October 2012, for 26 other harmful pesticides, several of which are believed to cause cancer. The PMRA has yet to respond to the groups’ review request for atrazine, which has been banned in Europe since 2004. Commonly used on corn crops, atrazine is one of the most frequently detected herbicides in Canadian surface water and groundwater. Exposure to atrazine is has been linked to reduced fertility in humans.
“The health of Canadians should be the government’s top priority,” said Mara Kerry, David Suzuki Foundation science and policy director in the joint statement. “If pesticides are not proven to be safe, we must find alternatives.”
PMRA refused to review the following pesticides:
Chlorthal-dimethyl is a herbicide used to control weed and grass growth on farms and has been banned in Europe since 2009. Several U.S. states have reported groundwater contamination from use of chlorthal-dimethyl. It has also been detected in Canadian surface water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also classified the herbicide as a possible human carcinogen.
Trifluralin is a top-selling herbicide in the Prairie provinces and can be found in 17 registered pesticide products in Canada. It has been banned in Europe, since 2007, because of its high toxicity to fish, high persistence in soil and high potential for bioaccumulation.
Trichlorfon is an insecticide approved for use on balsam fir and spruce wood lots, Christmas tree plantations and cattle. Banned in Europe since 2007, trichlorfon is linked to central nervous system and neurological effects in humans. It is also toxic to bees and birds.
Briefing document re: chlorthal-dimethyl, trifluralin and trichlorfon
NOA - Chlorthal-dimethyl
NOA - Trifluralin
NOA - Trichlorfon
NOA - Delays re: 26 pesticides