Following the dismissal of a whistleblower at the ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ) this week, the importance of having independent researchers for pesticide analysis is back in the news in Quebec. Last March, investigations by Radio-Canada and Le Devoir revealed significant industry influence at the expense of independent analysis at a research centre (CEROM) funded in large part by the provincial government.
The revelations confirmed what independent researchers have been telling us for many years: the industry that produces and sells pesticides, as well as some agricultural producers, have an undue influence on pesticide research and promotion.
This is a major concern for us at Équiterre, which we are addressing in our pesticide campaigns.
When the information came out last March, we sent a letter to the then Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, outlining our demands to rectify the situation. We re-issued our requests and expressed our continued concern in a new letter to the François Legault government this week.
Our requests are that the government:
- Substantially increase its investment in pesticide research, and immediately re-assign the responsibility for managing these funds from the MAPAQ to another department.
- Stop funding research that is not independent.
- Immediately suspend funding for CEROM and redirect these funds to researchers, research institutes or organizations that are independent of the pesticide industry and have no conflict of interest.
- Conduct a public inquiry into government funding for agricultural research and into the non-publication of studies by the MAPAQ on neonicotinoids at a time when the government was considering a draft regulation to ban these substances.
INDEPENDENCE OF FEDERAL RESEARCH: THE CASE OF GLYPHOSATE
Équiterre is also very concerned about the influence of the pesticide industry on glyphosate use. Our investigation showed that the Canadian homologation process (which approved glyphosate use for another 15 years!) used studies that were manipulated by Monsanto to reduce the links between cancer and glyphosate use.