Politics & Government / Pesticide Ban
A brief reposnse to this article:
Manitoba seeks input on cosmetic pesticide
Posted: Jun 22, 2012
The proposed ban on cosmetic pesticide use has provoked the same old
tired arguments used to fight things like the restrictions that have
been used to successfully reduce the effects of smoking on public
Take this CBC article subheading
“ People will still buy pesticides, says store owner”
First, what did they think the store owner would say? (Why should we
even care what a store owner would say is a more thought provoking
question - but more on the economics of a
pesticide ban later.
Every time a government takes a measure that will protect the health
and safety of all citizens at the cost of restricting
the consumption rights of some citizens we hear the
- People won’t comply
According the CBC report, the owner of a business that sells
pesticides, “warned that people will find a way to get around a
This is a popular reaction to any regulation one disagrees with. Time
after time it is proven wrong but people always come back to it. The truth is that most people comply –
even with regulations that they hate.
That the CBC feels compelled to report on
the view of a person who profits from the sale of the product in
question as if such views are legitimate news, is also a more
complicated and troubling question.
The representative from the Home and Garden
Centre then relates some unsubstantiated anecdotal reports about cross
border shopping that have resulted from bans in other jurisdictions.
Where have we heard this before? Young people will still buy
cigarettes. - Smoking is on the decline anyway.
And then, as if in passing, we get the final shot; “The
popularity of pesticides has already declined significantly over the
last few years anyway.”
- Pesticide use is down so why regulate?
This would be a good argument if it were
true that public information, informed discussion, and general trends
in society would eliminate harmful practices without the need for
government intrusion into our commercial lives. The invisible hand of
the marketplace has never been that good at protecting people from the
effects of other’s bad habits.
The article goes on to point out that lawn care can be managed without
pesticides and give the example of the Legislative Buildings –
which have been maintained without pesticides for many years. These
revelations bring about the expected rebuttals from Pesticide fans. The
“ I don’t have time.” and the “It’s too
expensive.” arguments. Since when has “I can’t be
bothered.” been an excuse for behavior that harms others or even
for behavior that annoys others? And why would we accept the argument
that runs, “ I want something, but I can’t afford to do it
safely, so, because I want it, let me do it anyway.”
The heart of the matter is that businesses that supply these products
try to have us believe that, because a regulation impacts their
business, it is therefore bad for the economy in general. We’ve
heard this from everyone from oil companies to fast food suppliers. It
is a false argument. Lawn care companies can and will begin offering
pesticide-free solutions. Such solutions may well be a bit more labour
intensive – since when has providing more jobs been a bad thing?
If we have to pay a bit more for lawn care we could get off our butts
and do some of the work ourselves. I managed my admittedly modest lawn
for years without putting poison on it.