| Apr 16, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - April 16, 2009 The Last Roundupby Wilma Kenny

Ontario’s cosmetic pesticides ban will take effect Wednesday April 22: after that date, many familiar items will disappear from garden supply shelves. There’ll be no more roundup, Killex, weed & feed, pyrethrins, rotenone, rose dust, common fungicides or malathion available for household use. Depending on one’s current gardening practices, this may raise a lot of questions.

Why? This is part of the Ontario government’s toxics reduction strategy to reduce pollution and protect families from toxic chemicals. These chemicals enter the air, water and soil, where they can not only pose direct threats to human health, but also kill beneficial soil bacteria, earthworms, frogs, fish, birds and honeybees. Already, many communities have by-laws banning their use, and some retailers have stopped selling the products in question.

What counts as a pesticide? This is a broad category, which includes herbicides (weed & grass killers,) insecticides (slug bait, cabbage worm dust, etc), fungicides (rose dust), and oddly, bear attack deterrent spray (capsaicin).

Are there exceptions? Commercial agriculture and golf courses are among the exemptions, as are some pesticides to protect health and safety, such as control of wasps and mosquitoes, and killing plants poisonous to the touch, eg poison ivy. For detailed information and a list of banned chemicals, check the Ministry of the Environment’s website: www.Ontario.ca/pesticideban or phone their info-line at 1-800-565-4923. There is a suggestion that the ban-list may evolve, as the law is put into practise.

How will it be enforced? This law is intended to override any similar municipal by-laws, and enforcement will be a provincial matter. But don’t expect the OPP to be checking your garden shed and basement on the 23rd. The initial emphasis will be on public education and encouragement of compliance.

What becomes of the pesticides I have on hand? Do not dump these, or put them in the garbage. Treat as toxic waste. Call your township for waste disposal info.

What will become of my garden, now? For many home gardeners, the change may not be noticeable. If, however, your garden has been chemically dependant, this will be a good time to pick up lots of tips about ways to grow healthy lawns, flowerbeds and kitchen gardens without the added and sometimes considerable cost of pesticides.

“One for the worm, one for the crow,One to rot, and one to grow.”

This old pre-pesticide rhyme admits that the garden has its enemies, and the gardener is advised to expect only about one in four of the seeds he or she plants to make it through to maturity. There are many non-toxic ways to protect our lawns and gardens: next week, we’ll describe some of them.

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