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Insects aren’t the only pests out there

by Archives October 30, 2002

Anti-pesticide activist Steve Tvedten has declared war on the pesticide industry.

“We [anti-pesticide activists] are in a war. People [in the chemical industry] who have produced these poisons will have to pay reparations to the world,” he told environmental activists and concerned citizens who gathered last week at Concordia’s School of Community and Public Affairs (SCPA).

Sponsored by the Anne and Max Bailey Centre for Human Rights, in coalition with the SCPA, the talk was organized to reaffirm the stance of activists on pesticide use in Quebec, explained Jeremy Wallace, the environmental director of the Anne and Max Bailey Centre.

As a former pest control business owner, Tvedten recounted the journey to becoming an anti-pesticide activist.

“After my family and friends became sick [from pesticide exposure], I worked to get pesticides banned,” he recounted. Having been involved with both chemical production and anti-pesticide lobby groups, Tvedten says that although safer alternatives to pesticides exist, the pest control industry continues to avoid using them.

In attendance was fellow anti-pesticide activist Bernard Miller. According to Tvedten, the industry should have to pay for the damage they have done to people like Bernard, who became sick because of pesticide exposure.

The difficulty of banning these chemical products so people like Miller don’t get sick has proven to be an uphill battle, said Tvedten. The financial success reaped by pesticide production allows industries to continue to grow, while weak government regulations cannot even enforce warning labels, he explained.

The joke, he said bitterly, is that these pesticides, which are supposedly necessary in agriculture, do not eliminate insects.

“We produce 4.5 billion tons of poisons every year, and we still don’t have any control over insects.”

After the talk, Tvedten said he hoped people now realize the need to ban pesticides, particularly in Quebec. In reference to the recent banning of pesticides in some Quebec municipalities, such as Hudson, he said that there is hope in continued bans “as long as Quebec continues to have the strength to stand up against the U.S. (pesticide) corporations.”

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