Implementing the Precautionary Principle in Urban Pest Management: The Quebec Experience

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Abstract:

Important public policy decisions should be based on sound science. Unfortunately, in the case of urban pesticide use, some provinces across Canada have chosen to ignore scientific evidence demonstrating the safety of pest control products. The result has been that many homeowners no longer have access to safe and effective weed, insect and disease control tools. Certain groups call for restrictions on the use of pesticides based on the precautionary principle, but what they fail to recognize is that the precautionary principle is the foundation for Canada?s regulatory system. The primary objective of the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA) is “?to prevent unacceptable risks to people and the environment from the use of pest control products.” The PCPA is inherently precautionary with its required pre-market assessments and prevention of unacceptable risks.

The PCPA also applies a precautionary approach by requiring that all currently registered products undergo periodic re-evaluations to ensure they continue to meet modern scientific standards. The reality is that pesticides are one of the most regulated products available in Canada. The exhaustive and comprehensive scientific review and safety assessment by Health Canada?s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) ensures the protection of human health and the environment. Using the strictest health and safety standards anywhere in the world, Health Canada carefully reviews all scientific evidence and studies before a pesticide product may be approved for sale and use. PMRA employs more than 300 scientists who are dedicated to the evaluation of pesticides. They are experts in this field and only the products that meet Health Canada?s strict health and safety standards are registered.

Keywords: PEST MANAGEMENT; PESTICIDES; POLICY; PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE; REGULATION

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1564/23aug08

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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