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Pesticide Use Highlighted as PEI Election Nears

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Issue: 8 Section: Canadian News Geography: Atlantic PEI Topics: elections, food security

September 27, 2003

Pesticide Use Highlighted as PEI Election Nears

by Daron Letts

Things are different on PEI during election time.

For years, members of the PEI environmental organization, Earth Action, have focused public attention on the industrial agriculture policies of the Pat Binns government. Islanders now anticipate annual fish kills in the rivers and streams that wind through the province's massive potato acreage. The province also has the country's highest asthma rate.

Earlier this month, the spraying of Roundup, Monsanto's most popular pesticide, on the province's Confederation Trail came to public attention and Earth Action released a critical statement.

"Glyphosate is a relatively new chemical and we're only just beginning to find out what harm it causes," it read. "It is an extremely persistent chemical and lab studies have found adverse effects in both humans and wildlife."

One of the group's spokespeople, Sharon Labchuck, suggested to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works that vinegar be used instead of pesticide to kill weeds on the province-wide walking trail.

"Researchers are looking at commercial applications of this less-toxic alternative," she wrote.

Within 24 hours, the department replied.

"We've decided to cancel the Roundup as you have suggested," wrote Deputy Minister Steve MacLean. "We'll try the vinegar."

The vote will be held September 29.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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