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Fact sheet

What are pesticides?

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Pesticides are substances (chemical for the most part) designed with two uses in mind: to protect or control plants, and to eliminate pests or render them harmless. There are several types of pesticides, including rodenticides to combat mice, rats and other rodents, and wood preservatives and biocides to fight against mold.

But the most widely used pesticides are herbicides, insecticides and fungicides to combat unwanted weeds, harmful insects and fungal disease, respectively:


The most commonly used pesticides in Quebec are herbicides. They eliminate unwanted weeds that can damage crop yields by competing with new crops early in the growing season.


In agriculture, insecticides are used to eliminate insect pests likely to harm crop production or yield. In urban settings, insecticides are also used to exterminate unwanted insects inside or outside buildings.


Fungicides are designed to combat fungi and their spores responsible for certain fungal diseases on plants. They are not effective against bacterial or viral diseases.

Did you know that in Canada, the provinces have the power to regulate the sale, storage, use, transportation and disposal of pesticides? The provincial governments can limit and even ban the sale of pesticides approved by Health Canada.

Équiterre campaigns

Équiterre has long campaigned alongside its partners to promote stronger legislation governing pesticides in Quebec and Canada. It led a number of initiatives in this area between 2011 and 2019.

More than 10 years fighting pesticides

Équiterre is a member of Vigilance OGM, which proposes measures to reduce our dependence on pesticides, in particular through the campaign Sortir du glyphosate.

Équiterre's vision

Make agriculture more resilient to reduce our dependence on pesticides

In recent years, Équiterre has put soil health front and centre in its efforts to ensure sustainable, resilient agriculture. Through initiatives to help field crop farmers transition to soil health and conservation practices, we have campaigned for preservation of healthy farmlands and less long-term dependence on pesticides. The following two Équiterre projects support a comprehensive transition to a more resilient agricultural sector with a smaller environmental footprint:

  1. Soil health and climate agriculture
  2. Soil health and conservation showcases

To learn more about the green transition that is needed for healthy, sustainable food and about Équiterre’s work in this area, visit our Food and Agriculture page.

Discovering the power of healthy soil

In a research paper released in 2021, Équiterre and its partner, the Greenbelt Foundation, described how healthy soil can help Canadian farmers play a central role in combatting the climate crisis and saving our agriculture from the many threats facing it. A key focus of the study was the lower need for pesticides and fertilizers when soil regeneration practices are put in place.

Healthy soils play a central role in tackling the climate crisis