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An extensive body of medical literature has demonstrated that pesticides pose a significant threat to human health. Pesticide exposure has been linked to cancer, including childhood cancer, developmental defects and behavioural disorders. While pesticides may continue to have a role to play in insect infestation, cosmetic pesticides are non-essential herbicides and insecticides that are used solely to maintain the aesthetic qualities of lawns and gardens.

Many of the cosmetic pesticides available to consumers in British Columbia contain active ingredients that are classified as possible human carcinogens — cancer-causing substances — by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Some other ingredients are listed as reproductive toxins, endocrine-disrupting chemicals or neurotoxins. Children are most at risk from pesticide exposure because their smaller, developing bodies are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of pesticides.

Cosmetic pesticides are also known to have adverse environmental effects on non-target wildlife species, such as aquatic animals, birds and fish.

Across the country, more than 125 municipalities have passed bylaws that ban the use of cosmetic pesticides within their municipal boundaries. However, only the provincial government has authority to control the sale of pesticides, which has meant that retail stores have continued to sell pesticides that are banned for use under the bylaws. In Quebec and Ontario, consumers petitioned their provincial governments for action and were successful in winning legislation that bans the sale and use of certain cosmetic pesticides and restricts the sale of others.

Public opinion polls conducted in B.C. in 2008 showed that 77 per cent of British Columbians support legislation that would phase out the use of cosmetic pesticides on public and private property. There are many alternatives to the use of cosmetic pesticides, including mechanical weed control and non-toxic products that can be used to control insects and weed growth. Organic gardening advice and services are also readily available.

THEREFORE, we, the undersigned, call on the provincial government to enact legislation that would ban the use and sale of cosmetic pesticides in the province of British Columbia. We further call on the government to ensure that the legislation upholds the right of municipalities and regional districts to adopt more stringent bylaws if they so decide and to extend the ban to all private and public lands in the municipality or regional district.

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