Pesticide Ads Illegal and Deceptive  
UPdate, Winter 2003

The assurances are familiar: pesticides are "safe", they have been "government approved". These persuasive phrases are used or implied by the pesticide industry to oppose restrictions on cosmetic pesticide use, and to convince customers that claims about pesticide health risks are unfounded.

Now the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) has released a report, "Breaking the Law: Pesticide Advertising and Public Deception" which reveals that an over- whelming majority of pesticide advertising contains illegal claims.  The report documents how both manufacturers and lawn care companies flagrantly break the law in promoting pesticides like 2,4D. Federal government regulations prohibit describing pesticides as safe or implying government approval. Yet TEA found that 75% of promotional material and websites contained statements violating these regulations.

The illegal statements listed in the report fall into three categories, those implying government endorsements, those making false and misleading claims, particularly as to safety, and inappropriate environmental claims.

Some examples of what the pesticide industry is saying about their products are listed in the report's appendix.   Here are a few examples:  

"... each product is thoroughly evaluated  by agency toxicologists to ensure products meet strict safety standards...",  

"...effective control of broadleaf weeds without posing a danger to humans, pets or the environment...",  

"...Health Canada has 400 scientist looking at this issue every day and they have ruled time and again these products are safe...", 

"can be used with no risk..."

Breaking the Law calls on the federal government to crack down on illegal pesticide advertising. In the meantime, it might be wise not to believe everything you read...
The full report is available at