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
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
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
* Between 1982 and 1996 pesticide use on P.E.I. increased over 700% (government
* 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
* Dogs from homes where lawns have been sprayed with chemical pesticides have a
significantly higher than average rate of cancer.