Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Quebec finds more pesticide residues

There are concerns among farmers about a recent Quebec report that identified more pesticide residues in soil and water.

Craig Hunter, a pesticides specialist on staff with the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, writes in his regular column in The Grower newspaper that these findings can be misleading.

First, he says tests for residues are becoming more sensitive, so it may not be a matter that residues in Quebec’s soil and water are increasing, just that tests are more sensitive.

More important, he says the regulators ought to be paying attention to the Environmental Impact Quotient, a measure developed in New York State.

“Before Quebec rushes to restrict pesticide use by legislation, they need to know if the actual impact of what has been ‘found’ is actually significant,” writes Hunter.

“Further, they need to look at the best means to manage pesticide use that achieves political means while not only negatively impacting agriculture, but in fact improving crop production.

“It can be done – it has been done!” Hunter writes.

He says numbers can be use to “prove” almost anything unless they are broken down to very basic levels.

He hopes Quebec will take care to do things right.

However, Quebec has signalled since Hunter wrote his column that it intends to severely restrict pesticide use, including atrazine and neonicitinoids. It's the first jurisdiction in North America to signal an intent to further restrict atrazine.

Quebec's politicians have, however, said they intent to consult widely, including farmers, before they enact legislation.