Spraying poses risk

When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken

Re: the spraying for gypsy moth near Elk Lake (Saanich News Dec. 28).

Canadian doctors warn mothers: “Given the potential toxicity of these environmental pollutants [including bacillus thuringiensis, Foray 48B’s active ingredient] and the fragility of the foetus,” action should be taken to prevent possible “auto-immune, allergenicity, kidney and liver effects” (Genetic Trespass. GE toxin reaches umbilical cord blood, Pesticide Action Network North America).

In 1998 a Victoria residents’ group prevented local Foray 48B spraying. The Environmental Appeal Board B.C. chair agreed with their spray permit challenge:

The panel also finds that the CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) has shown a degree of arrogance and high handedness in ignoring the previous recommendation of the board…there is a risk to the health of children, people of all ages who have allergies, asthma and other respiratory ailments, people with immuno deficiencies, chemical hypersensitivities, and the elderly. It also poses an unreasonable adverse effect to the environment (non-target species).

The Precautionary Principle should be used: When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.

In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.

The process of applying the Precautionary Principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action. (Emphasis is mine.)

See Living Downstream about the Precautionary Principle free online through the library.

Larry Wartels

Saanich