Greens Want Carcinogens out of Canada
(CN) - Canada's Minister of Health is illegally delaying a "special review" of dozens of pesticides that have been banned in Europe, environmentalists claim in court.
In four federal lawsuits, the David Suzuki Foundation and Equiterre claim the Minister of Health failed to initiate reviews of potentially carcinogenic pesticides, including chlorthal-dimethyl, trifluralin and trichlorfon.
Chlorthal-dimethyl is banned in Europe and linked to groundwater contamination in "several U.S. states" and is classified as a possible carcinogen by the EPA, according to the environmental law group EcoJustice, which represents the plaintiffs.
Trifluralin, banned in Europe since 2007, is found in 17 registered pesticide products available in Canada. Europe banned it for its "high toxicity to fish, high persistence in soil and high potential for bioaccumulation."
Trichlorfon, also banned in Europe, "is linked to central nervous system and neurological effects in humans. It is also toxic to bees and birds," the groups claim.
The plaintiffs say they were forced to sue because the Minister of Health did not respond to their October 2012 requests for the special reviews.
They claim the Health Minister is shirking her nondiscretionary duty under Canada's Pest Control Products Act, which states that "special reviews" must be initiated after an OECD member country bans a pesticide ingredient.
The minister refused to initiate reviews on chlorthal-dimethyl, trifluralin and trichlorfon, and failed to render a decision about 26 other ingredients within a reasonable amount of time, according to the complaint.
This delay could have "serious impacts on Canadians," the environmentalists say.
"Where the Agency delays initiating mandatory special reviews of pest control products containing active ingredients banned by OECD [Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries for environmental or health reasons, the Agency increases the chance that Canadians will face unacceptable health risks from these ingredients," the applications state. "It likewise increases the likelihood of unacceptable environmental risks to biodiversity in Canada."
The plaintiffs are represented by Lara Tessaro with EcoJustice Canada in Toronto.