19 January 2004 16:52 [Source: ICIS news]
TORONTO (CNI)--Canadian pesticide makers said Monday they will appeal an Ontario court decision that upheld a controversial Toronto municipal law restricting the use of chemical pesticides here.
Debra Conlon, executive director at pesticide industry group CropLife Canada, told CNI today that "in our view" Toronto does not have the authority to pass such a law, and "we filed an application for appeal."
Under the statute approved by Toronto city council last May, the use of most chemical pesticides here would be restricted beginning this year and would be phased out entirely by 2006. A product’s use would be disallowed under this municipal statute despite being registered with Canada’s federal health ministry, Heath Canada.
Conlon argues that federal and provincial laws already sufficiently regulate the sale and use of pesticides in Canada. Said Conlon: "The federal government already spends millions of dollars regulating pesticides, and the Ontario provincial government has a budget for this."
She charged that the Toronto city statute is not based on science. "It’s intellectual hypocrisy, essentially," she said. "The way the law works, a product has to be first registered [as safe] with Health Canada before it can be banned by the City of Toronto."
She said that because of the lack of clear scientific criteria, pesticide makers are left puzzled about what they have to do "in terms of research and development" to get products approved for use in Toronto.
Conlon said if CropLife should lose the appeal, the case could go to the Supreme Court of Canada.
She stressed that the case was important and "it would be a big disappointment if we lost, that’s for sure." She added: "A big city like Toronto has influence on other cities [in North America]."
Conlon said that the case marks the first time that Canada’s pesticide industry has taken legal action of this kind. The legal costs for the appeal are "a significant expenditure for us," she said.
Conlon noted that the Toronto case is "completely different" from a 2001 Supreme Court of Canada decision which upheld a city statute banning use of certain pesticides in a Quebec municipality. "The Quebec case concerned Quebec law, but this case is about Ontario law and the laws between Quebec and Ontario are significantly different," she explained.
CropLife is based in Toronto.
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