In the end, business as usual for green lobby groups

A number of green groups are gloating over having forced the federal government to conduct a review of 23 pesticides.

A number of green groups are gloating over having forced the federal government to conduct a review of 23 pesticides.

The review is a result of a lawsuit launched by Ecojustice, an environmental law firm. Ecojustice is the Canadian green-washed name of its American parent, the Sierra Legal Defense Fund.

Ecojustice specializes in lawsuits over environmental issues and derives most of its business from acting on behalf of green groups like the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the Pembina Institute.

One could presume with a clientele like that, that nuisance lawsuits would be inevitable. This lawsuit would be viewed by many as falling into that category. It should be realized that the 23 pesticide ingredients named in the lawsuit have all been previously approved by federal government agencies like Health Canada, the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) and Agriculture Canada.

Those approvals, in most cases, go back many years and the products have been proven safe and effective when properly used. Many in the commercial crop production business would wonder what the point of this lawsuit was after all that successful use in the field.

In effect, the lawsuit doesn’t allege that the products are legally unsafe, but rather uses an obscure requirement that Canada must carry out as a member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

That rule requires Canada to review any chemical used in Canada that has been banned in Europe (EU). No review has been carried out by the PMRA to adhere to that rule, so Ecojustice launched a lawsuit to force the government’s hand. Ecojustice agreed to place its lawsuit on hold until the review was done.

The implication in the lawsuit is that because the named pesticide products are banned in EU, they must be unsafe, therefore they should be banned in Canada. That somehow presupposes that EU pesticide regulations and approvals are somehow better than those being used in North America.

That might be true if European countries based their approval system on strictly scientific grounds. But time and again, it’s been shown that some EU countries base their decisions on political correctness, green group lobbying, trade mischief and the much overused precautionary principle.

That has seen them ban genetically engineered commodities and food products, hormone-added beef and even seal meat and products. All of which havebeen proven to be perfectly safe to use and consume for decades.

In a number of cases, the EU has lost WTO trade actions for their unscientific and arbitrary banning of products.

A number of countries don’t even deny taking such dubious actions, blaming it on alleged public pressure.

The innocent might think that perhaps a review would be somewhat harmless, as one expects the outcome to just confirm the original approvals.

That will probably be the case, but what a waste of public money. For instance, the herbicide 24D is constantly referred to as being allegedly linked to a host of health issues.

But the reality is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spent 17 years and reviewed more than 1,000 submissions trying to find fault with 24D and found it posed no threat to human health, if properly used.

That still has not stopped the outrageous allegations about 24D. It would seem that this lawsuit will see the PMRA going down the same trail just to come to the same conclusion.

But none of that matters in the duplicitous world of green groups where ulterior motives rule the agenda.

Groups like Ecojustice are in the business of launching lawsuits, so they pursue every opportunity dubious or not. Those legal activities are financed by wealthy green groups like Greenpeace, the Suzuki Foundation and others. Those groups in turn need to be involved in order to maintain a high profile to their donors and to keep highly paid staff busy.

The outcome of this lawsuit is also predictable. Unless the PMRA agrees to completely ban the products, the lawsuit will be revived with allegations that the review was flawed, biased and left out important facts.

Green groups will allege that there was a chemical company conspiracy to cover up the real truth. In the end, it’s just business as usual for green lobby groups.

Will Verboven is the editor of Alberta Farmer.