Re: Forman and Kamisky (News, Op-Ed, July 13), Karlstrom (Letters, July 20)
A reduction in pesticide use does not mean a reduction of pesticide neurotoxic load.
DDT, which has a low human neurotoxicity, is still considered by some countries the safest commercial pesticide to control parasite-carrying insects. DDT has been replaced by increasingly neurotoxic pesticides, some which neurotoxicologists warned are so dangerous that no level of exposure is without risk of harm just as persistent as DDT, the environmental fate of which is largely unknown.
There is no way to contain pesticides released into the environment, no matter for what purpose. Humans are known to be more vulnerable to suffer irreversible and cumulative neurological damage on exposure to some of them than any other species studied.
Fest and Schmidt wrote in “Chemistry of Organophospate Pesticides” in 1973 that pesticides with neurotoxic properties should not be developed, even if they have exceptional insecticidinal properties. They pleaded for authorities to uphold precautionary principles, which was, from a legal standpoint, affirming what courts had held for nearly 200 years in respect to injuries caused by poisons.
If the B.C. government wanted to implement precautionary principles in respect to pesticides, it could have done so. Instead, 73 years after irreversible injuries on exposure to synthetic neurotoxic pesticide was reported, it does not even have diagnostic services available.
In fact, I doubt whether the province has the resources to determine which pesticides have low toxicity, since that responsibility lies with Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency.