By Jim Harpell
After attending the “Forestry Information” meeting put on by Forestry NS recently at the Best Western Glengarry, one can be forgiven for feeling this was simply a snow job to sell the idea of spraying with glyphosate.

It is obvious this was not meant to be a discussion about the spraying but simply a presentation of a carefully selected point of view.

The three presenters were all pro-spray, each chosen to address one aspect of the concern which DNR must be hearing and reading from the public. Not one specialist/researcher who opposes the use of these chemicals was part of the presentation.

When people in the audience questioned this one-sidedness and mentioned the work of certain people, they and their work were treated as insignificant or not qualified. When I brought up the issue that certain states in Germany were urging the EU to ban the spraying and that some countries (small ones) had banned it outright, the fact that they were small was used as an argument that their ruling was not important since big countries like the U.S., Australia, and Canada had approved it. Obviously big is might and might is right.

This reminded me of the pro-tire burning meeting in Shortt’s Lake quite some time ago as well as the pro-fracking meeting of a few years ago. The company mouthpieces with their slick, down-pat, prepared spiels reassuring us that all is fine with the planned action was their method of pulling the wool over the eyes of the general public, then as it is now. Fortunately, back then, there was enough time for people not ready to buy into the corporate sell, hook line and sinker, to bring in reputable speakers who told the other side of the story. With such short notice about this meeting, it was not the case this time.
When we have knowledgeable people such as Dr. R. Warren Bell, President, Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment coming out strongly against it, I stand up and take notice. Then, considering that one of the speakers, Dr. Len Ritter, who supported use of Agent Orange back in the 1980s, I really feel justified in questioning his opinion about how safe it is to use this spray.

Another, Professor Christopher Portier, one of the co-authors of the recent report by the WHO (World Health Organization) which determined that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen, said that, “Glyphosate is definitely genotoxic. There is no doubt in my mind.”

“Genotoxic” means it damages DNA.

Also in the write-up, “it is widely believed by regulators that for genotoxic chemicals that are also carcinogenic, as glyphosate appears to be, there is no safe levels of exposure.”

Talking to a number of people after the meeting and since, my guess is that this issue is not dead. Some of us are hoping to arrange a meeting with qualified people who have researched and oppose the use of this chemical spray. It appears that the precautionary principle is gone from the DNR mindset of today.