Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario


Registered nurses and doctors thank Minister for strong pesticide stance




TORONTO, Oct.  31, 2008 – Ontario’s registered nurses and doctors say that Environment Minister John Gerretsen did the right thing in standing up for public health against Dow Chemical on pesticides.


Wendy Fucile, President of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), applauded the Minister for his firm stand against the threat from a challenge under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  “The Minister sent a timely

message that protecting the public from the cosmetic use of pesticides is more important than protecting the right to sell pesticides.” 


Fucile was referring to the environment minister’s comment this week that Ontario would include 2, 4-D, a powerful herbicide used to control weeds, on a list of substances banned for use in the province under its new pesticide law. 


In August, Dow AgroSciences, a subsidiary of Dow Chemical that manufactures the herbicide, filed a notice of intent to submit a claim against the federal government.  The company alleges that Quebec’s ban on 2, 4-D violates Canada’s obligations under NAFTA because it prohibits a product that hasn’t been deemed unsafe by Health Canada. According to Health Canada, the substance can be used safely if package directions are followed closely. 


However, several environmental and health groups that support Ontario’s and Quebec’s pesticide bans say studies have linked 2, 4-D to serious illnesses such as cancer.


RNAO and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) say Chapter 11 of the NAFTA allows investors of one NAFTA partner to sue the government of another for actions that could harm a company or their investments. Both organizations warn against trade agreements that can undermine regulations deemed in the public interest.


Gideon Forman, Executive Director of CAPE, argues it is ironic the company is challenging the Quebec pesticide ban because of alleged lost revenue. “With organic landscaping growing by leaps and bounds, we know there is more money in non-toxic lawn care. Instead of selling poisons, the chemical companies can sell non-toxic products.”



The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. 


The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) is a national organization of 3,500 doctors and concerned citizens working to protect human health by protecting the planet. In 2006, the association won a Canadian Environment Award (gold medal). CAPE played a leadership role in the campaign for Ontario’s Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act, 2008.  


Please contact:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications
Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
Office: 416-408-5605
Mobile: 647-406-5605