Groups sue Ottawa over lack of review for pesticides banned in Europe

The federal government is facing a series of lawsuits over its refusal to review three pesticides banned in Europe, as well as its delays in deciding what to do about other chemicals that those countries consider too hazardous to use.

The federal government is facing a series of lawsuits over its refusal to review three pesticides banned in Europe, as well as its delays in deciding what to do about other chemicals that those countries consider too hazardous to use.

“(Environmental groups) have made numerous efforts over the past 10 months to have the government comply with its legal duty to subject these pesticides to special reviews,” said Lara Tessaro of Ecojustice, which is representing the David Suzuki Foundation and Equiterre.

“The government has now outright refused to do that for three pesticides and is delaying its decision for 26 more.”

But an industry spokesman said those chemicals have been recently and thoroughly reviewed and are safe when used properly.

The chemicals include chlorthal-dimethyl, a possible carcinogen and herbicide most commonly used on weeds in vegetable operations; trifluralin, a popular herbicide on the Prairies that’s highly toxic to fish; and trichlorfon, an insecticide approved for woodlots, Christmas tree plantations and cattle that has been linked to human nerve damage.

The chemicals are found in about 700 commercially available products, said Elaine MacDonald, an Ecojustice scientist.

All three have been banned in Europe for at least six years.