Ontario to ban sale, use of garden pesticides

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Ontario said on Tuesday that it will ban the sale and general use of pesticides in what the province said would be among the toughest such environmental laws in North America.

A house in a suburb shows a new trend in landscaping that moves away from manicured lawns and towards using environmentally friendly organic landscapes in Toronto, October 26, 2007. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Canada’s most populous province said the new legislation -- expected to take effect next spring -- would outlaw homeowners’ use of lawn and garden pesticides for such things as killing dandelions. Exceptions would be made for golf courses, farms and forests.

In Canada, only the province of Quebec has a similar ban, and according to the pesticide industry no U.S. state has a ban in place.

“Our generation is becoming more and more aware of the potential risks in our environment, not only to our health, but to our children’s health,” Ontario’s Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty said in announcing the legislation.

The pesticide trade association CropLife Canada said it supported an end to nonessential use of pesticides but said the bill created a double standard by allowing them on farms and golf courses but not on lawns.

“Either they are safe for use or they are not,” the organization’s president, Lorne Hepworth, told Reuters. He said the ingredients were already regulated by the federal government.

In the Ontario legislature, opposition Conservative legislator Toby Barrett echoed the sentiment, asking why pesticides deemed to dangerous enough to be banned in some circumstances would be allowed in others.

“Is it OK to eat food that has been treated with some of the substances we’re talking about today?” he asked.

The Canadian Cancer Society, which has lobbied for bans by cities and provinces, said it was happy the legislation targeted both sales and use.

“We are pleased it’s going to be implemented so quickly,” spokeswoman Irene Gallagher added.

A number of municipalities in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada have already banned pesticide use.

Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Rob Wilson