Recently, along with Environmental Defense, Équiterre submitted a petition with 46,000 signatures asking the Ministry of Health to ban atrazine in Canada. This widely used pesticide across the country, deemed harmful for the environment and to which foetuses and children are more vulnerable, was detected in the drinking water of Montreal and Toronto.
Despite the concerns raised by researchers, physicians and major environmental groups like Équiterre, Health Canada has decided to re-approve the use of atrazine. The governmental body also decided to launch a new special review process that will now take into account health and environmental impacts. This is a small victory, considering that the studies submitted to Health Canada and the federal Minister of Health led to a new investigation on this harmful pesticide. In addition, this new analysis will focus on surface water, which is the drinking water of about 70% of the Canadian population, whereas the previous review was limited groundwater contamination concerns.
Canadians’ Health should not be taken in hostage
Because Health Canada has a mandate to protect the health of Canadians, a three to five year review of atrazine is unacceptable. To make an analogy with Health Canada's approval of drugs, this would be tantamount to saying: "The effects of this drug are still unknown, but we will leave it over-the-counter while we conduct our study." We urge the Minister of Health to complete her new review of atrazine within 12 months and to put in place precautionary measures to protect the health of farm workers, agricultural communities and other citizens exposed to this pesticide. As for us, along with Environmental Defense, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and Ecojustice, we will continue to provide Health Canada with scientific evidence demonstrating the health and environmental risks associated with the continued use of this pesticide.