New Federal Pesticide Bill
in the Works  
UPdate Summer 2002

Federal Environment Minister Ann MacLellan has introduced Bill C-53, the long awaited revisions to the Pest Control Products Act.  The bill is now in second reading. The bill's highlights include provision to consider all sources of exposure when considering registering a product, mandatory reevaluation every 15 years or when significant new information becomes available, and consideration of effects on special risk populations, like  children.

While the bill is seen as a significant step forward, it has several major flaws. Unlike the Environment Act, it does not make the precautionary principle an integral part of the act, which means it will be difficult to achieve the bill's primary objective, to prevent unacceptable risks for people and the environment from the use of pest control products.

The bill also avoids federal responsibility for the use of cosmetic pesticides. MacLellan leaves that issue up to the provinces and municipalities, referring to the Supreme Court ruling that upheld a municipality's right to ban cosmetic pesticide use and stated that this was "best achieved by the level of government closest to the citizens affected."   The federal government's own environment committee has called on the government to invoke a moratorium on landscape pesticides across the country until they are proven to be safe.

Another major disappointment in the proposed new PCPA is that there is no provision to fast-track approval of less toxic alternatives to chemical pesticides which have been proven effective for controlling garden pests and are registered in other countries but currently cannot be marketed as pest control products in Canada because of the slow regulatory process.