Fire / Feu

Un tueur sommeille dans vos champs:

L'empoisonnement par les pesticides va tuer environ 67 million d'oiseaux en Amérique du Nord cette année. Le carbofuran est la substance chimique la plus toxique utilisée dans les fermes canadiennes. Il est "répandu partout dans notre environnement...le gouvernement préfère soutenir les profits de l'industrie de la patate plutôt que de se préoccuper de la santé de votre famille... Combien de cancer infantile, de grenouilles malformées et de grandes pertes de poisson nous faut-il subir avant qu'on se réveille?" Brad nous fournit également certains faits concernant les pesticides.


Asleep in the Killing Fields

Bradford Duplisea,
Sierra Club of Canada
May 1999


t.gif (259 bytes)his year, an estimated 67 million birds will die from pesticide poisoning in North America. Sparrows, finches, larks and other Canadian songbirds will die from exposure to pesticides - the same ones used on P.E.I.! That's right, in the field beside your house or cottage! This summer, unbeknownst to the million or so tourists and the general public, untold numbers of songbirds will die a horrible death in, or near, P.E.I. potato fields.

sprayed.jpg (9727 bytes)
(photo: Brad Duplisea)


P.E.I.'s own farm-favorite, the insecticide carbofuran, tops the toxicity charts. Dr. Pierre Mineau, who heads the pesticide section of the Canadian Wildlife Service's research centre in Hull, Québec, has studied the effects of carbofuran since 1982. He has seen many birds die. "It's one of the most toxic pesticides to birds that we have," he says. "... you see them start stumbling. They usually end up prostrate on the ground with their legs behind them. Sometimes there is violent tremor of wings. Then they just sort of put their beak down and die. It's not fun to watch."

The pesticide behaves like a powerful nerve gas and literally short-circuits the brain. Normally, the chemical messenger that sends electric nerve impulses from cell to cell breaks down after the nerve fires. Carbofuran causes that chemical messenger to pool, causing a "short-circuit" of the nervous system - shutting down the brain. It works identically in insects, birds, amphibians and mammals.

Carbofuran is sold in Canada under the brand name Furadan by the German multinational BAYER. The same company that makes Children's Aspirin, Bayer has a rich history of poisoning life. Bayer's role in IG Farben - the wartime Nazi Germany "Chemical Corporation Coalition" of BAYER, BASF and Hoechst was an insurmountable act of evil. IG Farben created the nerve gas which Adolf Hitler use to kill 6 million Jewish people; many of whom were used as "guinea
pigs" to study the 'effects' that their chemicals had on humans.

Today BAYER makes millions by killing other life forms. The same poisons that were used to kill millions of people, in smaller doses, kill everything else including insects, plants, animals and birds. Moreover, chemical pesticides affect immune system development in children and the unborn, cause leukemia, breast and other cancers, and the list goes on.

The killing doesn't stop with the initial poisoning. Secondary poisoning occurs when a bird or animal is poisoned through the act of eating another bird or animal that itself has been poisoned. Potential victims of secondary poisoning from carbofuran include bald eagles, hawks and the family dog or cat. As far back as 1983, scientists were publishing papers on this danger. US Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Edward Flickinger described a female red-shouldered hawk lying at the edge of a cornfield in Maryland. "The bird had some movement of its head and neck but was otherwise almost entirely paralyzed," he said. "Its legs were rigidly extended posteriorly with the talons tightly clenched. The hawk was salivating a brown fluid and was respiring in rapid pants. These symptoms are consistent with those observed in birds dosed in the laboratory with carbofuran, and judging by their severity, I felt the animal was near death."

The killing doesn't stop with the initial poisoning

In 1991 and 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency took the unusual step of inviting pesticide manufacturers to submit all their scientific reports, with a promise of amnesty from fines - just give us all your worst information for our files, and we won't punish you. The reports flooded in - 10,000 of them - showing that many of the 5000-6000 pesticides already on the Canadian market pose a "substantial risk of injury to health or to the environment."

The pesticide industry's own toxicity studies and scientific reports are fraudulent. Newsday reporter Dan Fagin, National Law Journal's Marianne Lavelle, and researchers from the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, DC, completed a report a year ago which showed results were severely skewed, depending on one factor - who paid for the study. They looked at 161 studies of four chemicals. One is atrazine, a heavily used herbicide on numerous Canadian crops (including P.E.I.'s), which is under suspicion as an endocrine-disrupting chemical that may be responsible for deforming thousands of frogs in the St. Lawrence River Valley. Of the 43 industry-funded papers, the U.S. report found that only six were critical of the chemicals. In the 118 independent studies that were submitted, however, 71 were negative.

"Chemical companies employ nearly 90 per cent of the nation's 1,650 or so weed scientists and the few independent researchers rely heavily on grants from pesticide makers," says Charles Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public Integrity. "The industry-sponsored studies are important because the federal government's approach is to consider the chemicals safe unless they are proven harmful."

One would think P.E.I.'s scientists, academics and numerous environmental organizations would be up in arms, demanding that these bird-killing, frog-mutating, child-harming pesticides be banned. Believe it or not, they're not! They don't care. Pat Binns and his cabinet ministers don't care either. Minister of Education Chester Gillan, a man thought to have some sympathy for conservation issues, has remained silent while the birds die. The tourism industry doesn't care either. The last thing it wants to hear is the word "pesticide" - after all, the truth may hurt P.E.I. tourism. Even the Island Nature Trust has kept silent on the matter. Earth Action's Sharon Labchuk has been fighting the use of carbofuran for several years. When one looks at the facts, and listens to scientists, it is hard to believe her organization is accused of somehow being "radical".

Sharon is one of the few people who, despite the adversity, is being sensible. P.E.I., Canada's most densely populated province, does not need these highly toxic chemicals dispersed throughout our environment. The Pat Binns' government is putting profits of the potato industry above your family's health and P.E.I.'s fragile ecosystem. How many childhood cancers, deformed frogs, and mass fish kills must we experience before we see the light?


* Between 1982 and 1996 pesticide use on P.E.I. increased over 700% (government statistics)

* As much as 99% of a pesticide product can be secret ?inert? ingredients which include thousands of chemicals including known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. In a 1991 report, the New York State Attorney General stated, "chemicals used as inerts include some of the most dangerous substances known".

* A World Health Organization report estimates that every year there are one million human pesticide poisonings and 220,000 deaths.

* Children from homes where pesticides are been used have a 7 times greater chance of developing Leukemia.

* Dogs from homes where lawns have been sprayed with chemical pesticides have a significantly higher than average rate of cancer.