Canada raising limits on pesticide residue

Written by  //  July 12, 2007  //  David Mitchell, Environment & Energy, Public Policy  //  1 Comment

Canada is raising the limits on pesticide residue permitted on fruits and vegetables, to bring Canadian standards into line with weaker U.S. standards.
Jul 10, 2007 04:30 AM
Linda McQuaig

… [Since] The Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) was officially launched by the leaders of the U.S., Canada and Mexico in March 2005, it’s operated largely under the radar, even though it deals with some of the most important issues a nation faces – national security and energy, as well as trade.

Given the centrality of these issues, one would have thought that any changes – especially changes that would make Canada more like the U.S. – should involve wide consultation with the Canadian people.

But exactly the opposite is happening. The public has been completely shut out of the SPP process. The key advisory body in the SPP is an all-business group called the North American Competitiveness Council, made up of 30 CEOs from the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

It’s fine to have input from business, but why only business? Corporations have interests which are not necessarily the same as the broader public interest; indeed, these two sets of interests are often in conflict.

Take the small example of the harmonization of regulations involving pesticides. This harmonizing of standards – in the interest of removing “trade barriers” – has been underway for more than a decade under NAFTA, but it is now being fast-tracked under the SPP.

So, as the Ottawa Citizen reported in May, Canada is raising the limits on pesticide residue permitted on fruits and vegetables, to bring Canadian standards into line with weaker U.S. standards.

… Canada’s standards are already weak enough. For example, both Canada and the U.S. permit the pesticide permethrin to be used at levels 400 times higher than the European Union permits; we allow methoxychlor at levels 1,400 times above the European limit, according to a study by Canadian environmental lawyer David Boyd.

Shouldn’t our government be tightening our standards, not quietly watering them down further to make things easier for those in the business of selling these – and other – products?

Regulatory harmonization is just one small area that the SPP is working on. I’ll deal with the more contentious issues – security and energy – in a later column, all in the interest of setting the stage for next month, when Bush arrives in Montebello, Que., for what he, Stephen Harper and Mexican president Felipe Calderon are no doubt hoping will be an opportunity to quietly discuss the SPP and weigh the advice of their business council.

Forwarded by David Mitchell OWN July 12, 2007

Linda McQuaig can be reached at

One Comment on "Canada raising limits on pesticide residue"

  1. Diana Thébaud Nicholson July 12, 2007 at 4:45 pm ·

    Read the report of former Commissioner of Environment & Sustainable Development (CESDD) on PMRA (Pest Management Regulatory Agency, a branch of Health Canada) and pesticides in 2003.
    Concerned individuals can use the petition process under CESD to ask PMRA and Health Canada why this is happening.
    Johanne Gélinas

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