THUNDER BAY -- A thousand people across Northern Ontario have signed a petition calling for an end to the use of an herbicide the World Health Organization calls "probably carcinogenic to humans."
Ontario banned glyphosate for cosmetic use in 2008 but forestry companies are still aerial spraying the chemical in reforesting areas to control competing vegetation.
"At that time, there was a discussion of protecting human health from unnecessary and potentially toxic chemicals," said Julee Boan, Ontario Nature's Boreal program manager.
"It seems there's a double standard. If it's not safe enough to be used under those circumstances, why would it be safe to use on our forests?"
Thunder Bay-based Citizens United for a Sustainable Planet presented the petition entitled, “Stop the spraying of Monsanto's controversial VisionMax herbicide in the Boreal Forest in Canada” to Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry Bill Mauro this week.
The group also sent a letter to Resolute Forest Products president Richard Garneau, stating it may not be illegal to use glyphosate in aerial spraying but using it defies the company's "social license" and relationships with communities in which it operates.
"I think the likelihood is the cheapest thing to do is to spray vast quantities of poison from the air. Any alternative will cut into profits," said citizens united member Paul Berger, whose name is signed to both letters.
"I don't think it should surprise anyone that Resolute is resisting moving away from using this product but we should expect our elected officials to protect the public good and listen to what the people want."
The effort is aimed at changing forestry practices in the Nipigon, Black Spruce and Dog River-Matawin Forests in the Northwest as well as Resolute-managed forests in Northeastern Ontario. The spraying tends to take place over blueberry season, which prompted a demonstration outside Mauro's Thunder Bay office in late July.
Mauro intends to respond to the petition next week.