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press release

Banned pesticides found in plants at Ontario garden centres

April 18, 2018

Environmental groups file request for investigation under Ontario’s Environmental Bill of rights

April 18, 2018 (TORONTO) Friends of the Earth Canada is calling on Ontario Minister of the Environment Chris Ballard to investigate the ongoing, and unlawful, sale of flowering plants containing banned pesticides, including bee-killing neonicotinoids.

Acting on behalf of Friends of the Earth Canada, Ecojustice lawyers filed an application under Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights, requesting the Minister of the Environment investigate the sale of plants containing banned cosmetic pesticides, including neonicotinoids (neonics), by garden centres in contravention of the Ontario Pesticides Act.

“Gardeners buying plants at major retailers, like RONA, Canadian Tire and Home Depot, are unknowingly getting plants containing harmful, banned cosmetic pesticides. The retailers are breaking the law,” said Beatrice Olivastri, Chief Executive Officer, Friends of the Earth Canada. “Gardeners need to be vigilant and demand their garden centre sell only plants that are safe for bees, families and their pets. Friends of the Earth’s testing results show some garden centres are not trustworthy.”

Samples collected by Friends of the Earth Canada from plants sold at RONA, Canadian Tire and Home Depot garden centres in Ottawa detected Class 9 pesticides residues in concentrations exceeding scientific standards of harm in flowering, ornamental plants. One of the main Class 9 pesticides found was Imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid known to pose threats to non-target organisms like bees.

While this round of testing was focused on garden centres in Ottawa, Friends of the Earth pointed out that garden centres are supplied from major growers across the country. Gardeners across the country should be concerned about the enforcement of pesticide bans if their province has one.

“Class 9 pesticides have been banned for cosmetic purposes in Ontario since 2009 because of their potential to cause harm to human health and the environment,” said Bronwyn Roe, a lawyer with Ecojustice. “When a retailer ignores its duty to ensure the plants it sells to consumers are safe, and continues to stock products containing banned cosmetic pesticides, the Minister has a responsibility to investigate and hold the company accountable.”

Under Ontario’s Pesticides Act, every corporation that is convicted of an offence can be fined up to $100,000 on the first conviction and up to $200,000 on each subsequent conviction. Directors of corporations can be held personally liable under the Act and can face a fine up to $20,000 on a first conviction and up to $50,000 on any subsequent conviction.

“Laws banning the use of pesticides are meaningless if they are not enforced,” said Ms. Olivastri. “The Minister has serious tools with which to work and should use them as we approach the 10th anniversary of the ban on cosmetic pesticides. This is an environmental and consumer protection issue.”