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Pesticide Giants Vow to Smash Quebec Ban on Toxics

Friday July 5, 2002
The Montreal Gazette,
Nation, Page A12
Pesticide sparks NAFTA fight
Kevin Dougherty Gazette Quebec Bureau

QUEBEC - The companies that make 2,4-D, one of the pesticides Quebec
is committed to banning, will challenge the provincial regulation
under Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement - if the
government goes ahead with the ban.

Donald Page, executive director of the Industry Task Force II on
2,4-D Research, said yesterday that the manufacturers will wage a
costly battle against Quebec under the NAFTA provision that has
allowed private U.S. corporations to successfully sue the Mexican and
Canadian governments and win hefty settlements.

Page, whose task force is funded by the four North American makers of
the weed-killer 2,4-D Dow Agro-Sciences, BASF, Nufarm Inc. and
Agro-Gor SA - predicted Quebec will lose the Chapter 11 case.

"They (Quebec) are going to have to stand up in court and prove it
(that 2,4-D causes cancer) and they can't. "There is no herbicide
used in Canada that is a carcinogen," Page said.

"Unfortunately, the Quebec government is dominated by activists."

STUDIES COST $30 MILLION

Page said that the role of his task force is to manage the
re-evaluation of 2,4-D that has been ordered by governments, using
sophisticated testing technology; it's spending $30 million

U. S. to conduct new studies at independent, certified laboratories.
The testing has been completed in Europe, he noted, and the European
Union has attested that 2,4-D is not a carcinogen. He added that of
the 140 studies done on 2,4-D "several have suggested links, but the
great preponderance does not."

To say that 2,4-D causes cancer based on the minority of studies "is
not sound science," Page said.

Epidemiological studies of 20,000 chemical-plant employees making
2,4- D showed no association with cancer; in fact, the studies showed
2,4-D plant workers lived longer, he said. Like the ban on DDT, after
Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring suggested that DDT was killing off
the peregrine falcon, a ban on 2,4-D would be harmful to society, he
said.

"Rachel Carson has killed millions of people," Page said, arguing
that DDT controlled mosquitoes carrying the malaria virus and, since
its ban, there has been a resurgence of malaria in the developing
world.

'IT IS POISON'

But Steven Tvedten, a Michigan man who spent 35 years in the
pest-control business using 2,4-D, cholordane and other products but
now preaches nat- ural pest control, questioned Page's defence of
DDT, pointing out that mosquitoes are now immune to DDT. "I was in
the pest-control business. I used to tell people it was safe enough
to drink," Tvedten said, adding he would think: "The government would
not allow it to be out there if it was poison."

Then, his child was stillborn and Tvedten became an anti-pesticide
ac- tivist. "It is poison," he said. , Tvedten said that while
industry- sponsored studies show that 2,4-D itself is not a
carcinogen, the chemical soup of commercial herbicides, which include
dioxins and other products, can be more toxic than 2,4-D itself, and
can interact with other chemicals.

Tvedten said his pest-management company uses organic products as
simple as chicken-manure compost to eliminate schoolyard pests, and
decried the organo-phosphates still widely used.

"This is not better living through chemistry," he said. "This is madness."

Kevin Dougherty's E-mail address is kdougherty@thegazette.southam.ca

National Editor: Victor Dabby(514) 987-2578


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