May 24, 2002
A blooming landscape

Re: Green Pencil, June 2000, Landscape Trades

Dear Sir/Madam: I am writing with some comments regarding the Green Pencil editorial in the June 2000 issue of Landscape Trades, written by Mr. Wayne Roberts, Pest Management Information Coordinator with Landscape Ontario.

     Mr. Roberts states: "L.O. does not support the Committee's comment that pesticides are highly poisonous substances…" (The Committee referred to is the House of Commons Standing Committee on Environmental and Sustainable Development).

     Comment: Would L.O. agree that pesticides are poisonous? This would be probable, I think, since pesticides are meant to kill organisms. And then some obvious questions are: how much pesticide or what combination of pesticides in the environment is required to reach conditions that are dangerous to human health? And: does L.O. know what these limits are, or how these chemicals interact in the environment and what combinations are safe or not safe?

     I think the aim of the proposed House of Commons' legistation is to take a precautionary approach and to limit the use of pesticides to essential needs. Obviously, the use of pesticides is necessary where they protect our food supply but not for ensuring weedless lawns.

     Another statement in the article is: "L.O. agrees that further research is important, but interim decisions such as the recent recommendations appear to be based on activism rather than science and research."
     Comment: If L.O. agrees that further research is important, I assume this means it agrees that there are possible dangers from pesticides. Therefore, on what basis does L.O. feel that a moratorium is not supportable?

     Statement: "Our stance is pro-green, not pro-pesticide… We endorse pesticide use as a last resort." (Quote within the article from Mr. Tony DiGiovanni, executive director of L.O.).
Comment: "As a last resort"… to what? Where is the threshold? When does it become OK to use pesticides - when human food supply is endangered or when there are too many weeds in the lawn?

     Statement: "Regulations should be based on fact, not activism."
Comment: Activism is a valid way to achieve change, if it is balanced with careful thought and action. It brings attention to potentially serious problems, and in this case, will likely lead to increased research and I think, has probably played a role in the increased care now being taken with the use of pesticides.

     In conclusion, I would like to say I believe that the precise degree of danger involved in the use of pesticides is not known, and that it would not be wise to ignore potential dangers for the sake of pristine beauty of well-maintained landscapes. But perhaps we can change our ideas about what landscape beauty is and be more accepting of greater plant diversity in more natural landscapes.

Yours truly,
Jim Douglas, Douglas Associates Landscape Architects Ltd.