A Primer on Pesticide Propaganda II

primeronpesticide_indexSince the recent streak of municipal pesticide bans were put into place across Canada, the pesticide industry has been on the defence. Represented by trade association CropLife Canada, the public relations strategies used by the industry were front and centre at the association’s September 2007 conference in Saskatoon, which Deconstructing Dinner host Jon Steinman attended.

But how is the media presenting those messages?

In this multi-part series, Deconstructing Dinner explores the messages coming from industry and Canada’s regulatory bodies; it examines research on the pesticide and cancer connections; it digs deep into the care that agricultural migrant workers receive when working within our borders; and it challenges one of the most frequently used arguments — “Without pesticides, the world would go hungry!”

Part II
Part II was sparked in light of CropLife Canada becoming engaged in an aggressive and defensive campaign since the Province of Ontario announced in April 2008 that they would legislate a province-wide ban on the non-essential use of 250 pesticides. That ban came into place on April 22 of this year and other provinces who have not already banned non-essential pesticides are thinking of doing the same. One of those provinces being pressured to enact such a ban is British Columbia where the Canadian Cancer Society is putting pressure on the province to do so. The issue has become somewhat of an election one in light of the upcoming May 12th provincial election and is likely what sparked CropLife to hold a meeting with other pesticide industry supporters on April 23 in the City of Richmond.

This episode explores the latest messages from CropLife including an exclusive unheard interview between Host Jon Steinman and CropLife’s Lorne Hepworth – recorded in September 2007 at CropLife’s annual conference. Richard Wiles (Environmental Working Group) and M. Jahi Chappell (Cornell University) were invited to respond to questionable remarks made by Hepworth during that interview.


lornehepworthLorne Hepworth, President, CropLife Canada (Toronto, ON) – Lorne Hepworth has been President of CropLife Canada (formerly Crop Protection Institute of Canada) since 1997, having previously (1992-93) served as Vice President. CropLife Canada is the trade association representing the manufacturers, developers and distributors of plant science innovations – pest control products and plant biotechnology – for use in agriculture, urban and public health settings. Member companies include Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, DuPont and Syngenta among others.

Richard Wiles, Executive Director, Environmental Working Group (Washington, D.C.) – Richard Wiles co-founded EWG with Ken Cook in 1993 and now supervises all staff. He is a former senior staff officer at the National Academy of Sciences’ Board on Agriculture, where he directed scientific studies, including two that resulted in landmark reports: Regulating Pesticides in Food: The Delaney Paradox and Alternative Agriculture. Wiles is a leading expert in environmental risks to children, and under his direction, EWG has become one of the most respected environmental research organizations in the United States. EWG’s exposure and risk assessment methods are recognized as state of the art, and have been used by the EPA and the National Research Council. Wiles holds a BA from Colgate University and an MA from California State University at Sacramento.

M. Jahi Chappell, Postdoctoral Associate, Science & Technology Studies, Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) – Jahi is the co-author of “Organic Agriculture and the Global Food Supply” published in June 2007 in the journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems. The University of Michigan study has received widespread attention. When the paper was being researched, Jahi was a PhD student in ecology, specializing in the intersection of conservation and food issues. His interest lay in analyzing how conservation policy could effectively be advanced to prevent the rapid loss of biodiversity, which Jahi indicates is, today, similar to the extinction rate that wiped out the dinosaurs. Jahi is now engaged in postdoctoral studies at Cornell University.

Other Voices

Samuel EpsteinProfessor Emeritus, Occupational & Environmental Medicine, University of Illinois School of Public Health (Chicago, IL)

Arzeena HamirCoordinator, Richmond Food Security Society (Richmond, BC)

Ben WestHealthy Communities Campaigner, Western Canada Wildnerness Committee(Vancouver, BC)

Harold StevesCity Councillor, City of Richmond (Richmond, BC)

Robert WrightField Development Manager – Eastern Canada, Syngenta Crop Protection Canada (Guelph, ON)

Marian StypaRegulatory and Biological Development, Syngenta Crop Protection Canada (Guelph, ON)

Musical Selection (name/title/album/label)
Theme/Soundclips: – Adham Shaikh, Infusion, Fusion, Sonic Turtle (CDN)
Music: – Terry Winchell, Pesticide Song, Vice Versa, Woodzilla Records