An Open Letter re: the Outstanding NB Medical Officer of Health’s Report on Glyphosate Herbicides

13427865_10208629272382259_8775867326137825778_n

Council of Canadians – Kent County NB Chapter
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/KentCountyChapterCoC/?fref=ts
email: coc.kent.county.nb@gmail.com
June 28, 2016

Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health
Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
Government of New Brunswick
HSBC Place, Floor: 5
P. O. Box 5100, Fredericton, NB, E3B 5G8
transmitted by email: Jennifer.Russell@gnb.ca

Dear Dr. Russell:

We need to see that report on glyphosate that you promised we would have before the spray season begins. We need to see that report now. It is not clear to us if your report has been scrapped, suppressed, or something else has happened.

Dr. Russell, the spray season is upon us. Both CN Rail and NB Power have already publicly released their approved spray plans. Timber industries have already compiled their lists of acreage they want to spray for their monoculture conifer plantations. Their applications for taxpayer-financed provincial silviculture spraying are being reviewed, and they anticipate approvals within the next few weeks.

We remember all too well how the government of that day tried to bury Dr. Cleary’s report on fracking in 2012. They knew they could not “control” her when it came to matters of public health, and they knew the report did not agree with their stated view that fracking is perfectly safe and would be great for NB. A similar situation potentially exists with this matter because in recent weeks, Minister Denis Landry and Premier Brian Gallant have both said glyphosate is safe.

On May 18th, I and eleven other New Brunswickers hand-delivered a formal complaint to the New Brunswick Ombudsman. It addresses matters pertaining to the “no cause” termination of the former Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH), Dr. Eilish Cleary. Our major concern is the status of Dr. Cleary’s promise to investigate and report re: the risks of glyphosate herbicide compounds on population and environmental health. Our conversation with NB Ombudsman Charles Murray is ongoing.

During her exemplary tenure as CMOH, Dr. Cleary established a very high standard for independent and comprehensive research, both with her peer-acclaimed 2012 report on population impacts of shale gas development, and in the Health Impact Assessments model developed in 2015 for the NB Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing. Since we learned that Dr. Cleary was put on leave and then dismissed, I am only one of thousands of New Brunswickers who are concerned that we will not see a comprehensive and independent report from the Office of the CMOH on glyphosate herbicide spray use in our province.

In her communication to me promising this report (sent August 14, 2015), Dr. Cleary said that her office would develop “a plan” for reporting “in the coming year.” In response to the issues I raised on behalf of our group, the Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians, Dr. Cleary also made the following comments:

  • concurrence with the IARC/WHO conclusion that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans”;
  • there is need investigate “the nature, duration and intensity of the exposure to the toxins in this province” and to look into the high incidence of non-Hodgkins lymphoma among men in NB;
  • any further protections needed to protect the population in New Brunswick would be independently developed and not curtailed by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency conclusions.

On September 24, 2015, I wrote the former-CMOH concerning some additional issues raised by members of our group. You responded to this letter, Dr. Russell, on November 9th, as follows:

  • re: “cases of poor compliance with setback distances, inadequate signage and ineffective advance notice of spraying,” your “office will bring these issues forward to the Department of Environment and Local Government which regulates these aspects of pesticide use”;
  • regarding when we could expect the report: “it is our understanding that its use is seasonal so we do not expect any significant spraying between now and the summer of 2016. We anticipate completing our action plan in advance of the next spraying season.” Subsequently, in a communication to Dr. Caroline Lubbedarcy, you promised the report this Spring.

Dr. Cleary’s impending and then actual dismissal broke in the media in early December 2015. At that time, the Deputy Minister of Health, the Minister of Health, and the Premier all affirmed that this report was forthcoming as originally promised. Spring is over, and the spray season has begun. Where is the report?

I am sure you are aware that new research is coming out all the time on these herbicide compounds.

A literature review by 14 diverse scientists called Concerns over use of glyphosate-based herbicides and risks associated with exposures: a consensus statement, was published in the peer-reviewed journal Environment Health on February 17, 2016. You will find the content in the appendices especially alarming. Other research suggests that glyphosate on its own is not nearly as bad as the complex herbicide formulation, glyphosate PLUS additives and adjutants, that make it work and are protected as “trade secrets.” As I understand it, these additional substances are what carry the glyphosate across cell walls and increase the hazards by untold magnitudes in a multitude of ways. Of huge concern to scientists studying glyphosate is that its use is so widespread: people’s exposures to the residue are pandemic, and tests show high concentrations in humans.

I am sure you are also aware that a 2001 Supreme Court of Canada decision affirmed government has a rightful mandate to apply the “precautionary principle” on the directly related matter of pesticides. The Consensus Statement referenced above clearly advocates for caution and care, and is part of the reason we are convinced that the precautionary principle must be applied to use of glyphosate here in New Brunswick. The precautionary principle can be understood as: first, do no harm; and, second, avoid doing things when there is a reasonable likelihood this could cause harm. The principle applies until the safety of the matter in question can be established.

Thousands and thousands of New Brunswickers share the concerns I have penned on behalf of our Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of Canadians. Valid population and environmental health research of the risks associated with these compounds is urgently needed. We sincerely hope that the report you have been working on will meet the tests for being valid, in depth and independent.

Please send me the report that we are promised.

Respectfully yours,

Ann Pohl
Chairperson, Kent County NB Chapter – Council of Canadians

Copies:

12321540_10153099976890044_6232575893423374604_n

 

Important Info: Forestry Protection Presentations on Clearcutting and Spraying

These presentations were made at the Peace & Friendship Alliance Meeting
in Rogersville, June 11, 2016. To become acquainted with the Alliance,
please ask to join our closed Facebook page of the same name. 

Caution: these notes are not verbatim. They are based on memory. In places, additional supporting information is included, to assist people getting active on forestry issues. 

13435299_10209804573337194_3883749741147972503_n

Yesterday, more than 60 residents from communities and groups in all four directions in New Brunswick gathered in Rogersville. Thanks to Le Buck Stop hunting club owner Gerry Vautour for the use his space, and to Gerry Leblanc for the beautiful signs and Leo Goguen for the artist’s materials.

It was the monthly gathering of the Peace and Friendship Alliance (P&FA), which moves around the province. The P&FA brings together Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Acadian, Anglo, and Newcomer New Brunswickers, to protect the natural environment that sustains all life on this planet. 

12662461_459506297576304_2396802875873503967_nThis meeting was jointly hosted by the Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians and the Rogersville Lumberjacks, with support from Kopit Lodge at Elsipogtog. All four New Brunswick chapters of the Council of Canadians were present, as were many other groups and individuals, especially concerned woodsmen from the Rogersville area. Both Kopit Lodge and Maliseet (Wolastoq) Grand Council were also represented.

Rogersville is a community where the forest is close to everyone’s heart. Throughout the day, there were six reports on our special theme: protecting the the natural indigenous Acadian forest life from clearcutting and the use of poisonous herbicides.

Kenneth Francis, Speaker for Kopit Lodge/Elsipogtog First Nation (EFN)
DSCN2795

This meeting was held in Mi’kma’ki, so the first presentation was from Elder Kenneth Francis of Kopit Lodge. “Kopit” means beaver, and is the animal that represents the Lodge because of its concern for the water. Kopit Lodge is the grassroots community organization mandated by Chief and Council to represent EFN in strategic and official consultations on natural resource issues.

Kenneth opened his presentation speaking about the Wabanaki People, who are of several different nations. All of Mi’kma’ki is part of this: seven distinct districts that traditionally extend from what is now the centre of New Brunswick to the north in Gaspe (Gespe’ke) to the east in Cape Breton (Unama’kik). All must be united in this Peace & Friendship Alliance, based on the treaty of the same name.

Kenneth spoke of two important things he has learned from his teachers. If you can speak your truth in a group, and people hear what you have to say, and you leave the room with the same number of allies you had when you entered, you did well. If you increased your alliances, you did very well.

As well, he remembered an historical tale about settlers discussing what the Mi’kmaq were like. One remarked to the other that, in the woods, they were part of nature, they were not separable from nature, it was all one sphere of life together. Kenneth said that is why they are preparing themselves for taking their issues into court.

Of greatest concern to Kopit and EFN is the poor way that the province is caretaking the environment, especially the devastation of clearcutting and spraying in the forest. For more than a year, Kenneth said, “We have been trying to get the provincial government to come to the table and consult with us on these issues. They keep ignoring us so we have to go the next step.” Recently Kopit/EFN served notice to the provincial government that they intend to file a claim for Aboriginal Title, to protect the environment for future generations.

Ken stressed that Kopit expects a dramatic increase in anti-Indigenous backlash, aimed at alienating non-Native allies from this strategic move. He provided some examples of what he has already started to see and what he thinks is coming. With a thank you to those present who have already expressed their support, Kenneth said Kopit has prepared some notes on what could be included in letters that non-Native environmentalists might choose to write to support the Kopit/EFN IMW (Protecting the Earth for Future Generations) legal strategy. (These guidelines are attached below.)

Leo Goguen, a lifelong outdoorsman and lumberjack from Rogersville NB

DSCN2825.JPG

Leo is also the Board Member representing Rogersville and Acadieville at the South East New Brunswick (SENB) Wood Marketing Board. He spoke about what he has seen in the forest since he was a boy. Leo brought in samples of branches from a local chopping that has been sprayed three times in recent years to suppress the natural forest. It is clear that patch of forest is determined to survive! Despite reports that have been widely circulated about how the animals will not eat the poisoned plants, Leo saw nine moose eating from this chopping last winter. Many local people hunt moose. One local hunter took a moose from this chopping, because the government says it is safe, and fed his five kids on it last winter.

Leo emphasized the extent to which private woodlot owners have been so marginalized in the industry, because they are unable to sell their wood at even break-even prices, thanks to provincial-corporate lumber agreements and also the lack of regulatory enforcement.

With equal amounts of irony and frustration, Leo said that privately-held woodlots have become by default the only protected forest areas in the province, because of how the 2014 Forest Management Agreement has cut protected areas to almost nothing and the fact that woodlot owners cannot afford to cut their woods for the corporate-owned mills.

Finally, he mentioned that NB Power, a provincial agency, uses herbicide sprays on their lines, and sometimes on older lines they may have neglected to get any consent from landowners. If anyone has a power line running through their property, you can call Rick Doucet at NB Power and ask to have your portion of the line put on their “No Spray” list: 506-470-8748. You need to provide NB Power with your Service New Brunswick PID number to get on this list.

Spasaqsit Possesom (Ron Tremblay), Grand Chief of the Wolastoq (Maliseet) Grand Council, agreed with Leo that putting pressure on NB Power is important. The Grand Council is seeking a meeting with NB Power to talk about their use of herbicide sprays.

Marcel Maillet, General Manager of the SENB Marketing Board

Before introducing Marcel, Leo told of an SENB meeting where the 120+- members present were asked by someone to stand if they opposed herbicide spraying on the forest. As far as Leo could see, everyone stood up. Marcel Maillet’s presentation confirmed that the South-East NB Marketing Board members are against the spraying.

Marcel introduced himself as coming from four generations of woodlot owenership, in Kent and Westmoreland counties, and he has 35 years of experience working in forestry. He said, “My father taught me to always respect the land and only take what you need… I don’t believe in using pesticides on forests. A forest is more than a tree farm.”

13445390_10154296370247139_7030627364899175080_n

Marcel tore apart the government and industry messaging that it is more financially economical to use spray “silviculture” than the old-style manual silviculture thinning.

After a chopping is cut, it is sprayed: this is called “seed spray.” A year or two later, when the soil has settled from the upheaval of clear-cut harvesting, the infant spruce trees are planted in the chopping. The area will be sprayed again late that summer or in early fall. After that it will be sprayed at least once more, sometimes 2 or 3 additional times. This is done to reduce the competition from the indigenous mixed Acadian forest fauna, many of whom grow much more quickly than the planted softwood trees. (The original forest plants and trees often come up from roots left in the soil.) 

Each time a clear-cut acre is sprayed it costs between $300 and $400 (let’s say an average of $350/acre). Therefore – at a bare minimum – it costs at least $1050 to do spray silvaculture on a one-acre chopping if only three sprays are needed: a seed spray, a spray right after planting, and one more. But remember, often more are required.  Our maple trees are the hardest to kill.

By contrast, manual silviculture by thinning costs about $300 per acre. It is most likely only needed twice, maybe 3 times, on a softwood plantation. It is less expensive and it makes jobs. A question was asked if there would be people to work these jobs, because industry/government suggest there are not. Both Leo and Marcel believe there would be silvaculturalists ready and happy to work. Not using the sprays eliminates the health impacts for humans and other life in the forest, means that nearby woodlots or fields will not be harmed by air-borne spray, and reduces the carbon-based environmental impact footprint on that area. If done in a mixed forest, to strengthen it, manual silvaculture thinning keeps the original forest intact making it more resilient to climatic and pest challenges. In the current market, hardwoods can be more profitable to harvest. 

The system we have now of using sprays for plantation silviculture only works because it is subsidized by the taxpayer through agreements between the lumbering corporations and the provincial government.

Comments from participants included: the true cost of the silviculture program should include health costs and flood costs as a result of clearcuts; and, Spruce Budworm spraying was stopped in NB because of the Migratory Bird Protection Act – NB  does not have strong legislation to protect the public, but strong legislation still exists under the Migratory Bird Act.

ECOvie from Restigouche Ouest

Next up were Francine Levesque and Jean MacDonald from ECOvie, a group from the Restigouche Ouest region of our province. Over 3,000 of the signatures on the petition against spraying that was filed with the NB Legislature came from their rural, sparsely settled area. Many people in that area have personal experiences with the wreckage and misery caused by clear-cutting and spraying.

Maple syrup production is currently a growing and employment-generating non-corporate natural industry in the area, and the maple products producers are set against the spraying. The hardwood mill in their region is a very well-respected local employer and more jobs like that would be a benefit to the area. 2016-05-19.jpg

ECOvie invited allies from around the province to support their plans to make more people aware exactly how clear-cutting and softwood plantation practices rely on the sprays, and of the need to stop the spraying. More will be announced about their plans as the spraying season approaches.

On August 27, the Peace and Friendship Alliance will meet in the Kedgwick area. Trailers and tents are welcome, if people want to come up the night before so they do not have such a long drive on the morning of the meeting.

Frank Johnston, Southeast Chapter of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick 

Frank is also a member of the provincial CCNB Board of Director’s Executive Committee. He presented a powerpoint show on loss of forest cover in the province since 2001, entitled, Forest Cover Loss in NB : A Process of Liquidation. It is a strong piece of scientifically assembled video research. Even better, it is available for groups and communities across the province to borrow, with or without Frank, because it has speaker notes embedded in it.

Between 2001 and 2012, New Brunswickers lost 1.7 times more of our public forest than has been replanted into the problematic industrial softwood tree plantations. It has not gotten better. Anyone living in or near the forest knows that the losses have gotten worse under the 2014 Forest Management Agreement signed by the Government of New Brunswick with JDI of the Irving group of companies, and now ratified by other major lumber corporations in the province. 

It is clear that we are losing good, indigenous mixed forest at a much greater rate than it is being replaced. The replanting is of only one species, which will not be climate change adaptable. Both the type of tree and the fact that it is monoculture makes our woods more susceptible to pest infestations which kill the trees and add to wildfire risks. 

Screenshot from 2016-06-13 10:40:00 Flooding is also a clear-cut side-effect, as we saw in Sussex area recently.

In another few weeks, Frank will be able to harness and start crunching the annual satellite-based data release from the University of Maryland on tree cover loss. Then he will be able to report on what the loss and replacement of tree cover looked like in 2015. It will be worse than previous years, based on anecdotal and photo evidence from around the province. But, it seems that in 2013, “a single clear cut above Thompson Road, South Branch” in Kings County, “369 contiguous hectares were cut even though 60 – 70 hectare cuts were the then current DNR guideline standard.” The majority of this cutting was on Crown Land License #6, held by JDI of the Irving group of companies (the minor part was adjacent freehold of unknown ownership). Likely, it was all cut for JDI by JDI’s subcontractors.

Frank concluded his talk saying that the management of Crown Land should return to the province, and that a vigorous program of “afforestation must replace the current policy of liquidation.”

There was discussion around his proposal for a “return to” management by the “province”. First, this offers no substantial protection for the environment based on how governments of different political parties all seem equally captured by the lumbering corporations whims. Secondly, the province does not have title to these lands: they have never been surrendered and have continuously been used for traditional uses by the original Indigenous Peoples. From an Indigenous rights perspective, especially now that Canada has fully agreed to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Mi’kmaq and the Wolastoq must be centrally involved in the management of the public forests. However, everyone agreed a new management regime is required and that an aggressive program of reforestration with mixed Acadian forest fauna is required, especially those plants that will be adaptable to climate changes.

Everyone was extremely appreciative of Frank’s work and presentation. Contact Frank c/o Tracy Glynn, Forestry staffer at CCNB, at <forest@conservationcouncil.ca>.

Stop Spraying New Brunswick (SSNB) Facebook Page 

Caroline Lubbe-Darcy presented this report. With the NB hunters and outdoors enthusiasts coming on board, support to end spraying in the forests has grown a lot. Doctors are also getting involved.

11140029_10153323672566365_9114381791770508962_nAt the rally on May 18, 2016 at the New Brunswick Legislature, a petition to stop spraying signed by almost 13,000 New Brunswickers was given to two MLA’s – David Coon and Gilles Lepage – who filed the petitions on behalf of  SSNB. David Coon raised this matter in the Legislature and Coon has circulated the response of then Minister of Natural Resources Denis Landry to this petition. As Landry is no longer Minister for this department, SSNB is going to follow up with the new Minister of Natural Resources. Everyone is asked to push for many more signed petitions for the next filing date: the deadline for getting these to SSNB is September 10th.

Caroline also reminded people to let NB Power know if you do not want them to spray herbicides on hydro line that is on your property. The info on this is on the SSNB FB page, where one can also find reports about glyphosate and other herbicides, and see photos of clear cuts and the damage being done to our forests. People are reminded to film or photograph clear cut areas, using gps tracking information if possible, and upload these visuals to the SSNB page.

SSNB volunteers are working on information sheets on the impacts of herbicide sprays. There was some discussion on this, with general agreement that public information is essential but many people feeling short videos are more effective. Caroline emphasized that the info sheets they envisage will be brief as most people do not have a lot of time for in-depth reading. There was also discussion of using consumer pressure on the companies that use the sprays.

An exciting development that will be very helpful is the beginning of a Spray Caucus through the New Brunswick Environment Network (NBEN). NBEN has helped many other grassroots environmental movements to network through regularly-scheduled caucus teleconferences. Both the Fredericton and the Kent County chapters of the Council of Canadians are members of NBEN and took part in the first discussion to set up this teleconference network.

Only organizations (not individuals) can take part in these “phone meetings’ – either groups that belong to the NBEN, or those who are nominated by a member group to join the caucus, who then become associate members. So, now is the time to form your own little group with concerned friends and neighbours – it is easier to get things done with a group, and you could consider joining this new caucus! 

Brainstorming Where to Next, To Stop Spraying?

After these presentations concluded, there was an open “brainstorming” discussion. Details from that are not being shared in this document. Many of the ideas were in preliminary stages and need more planning and networking to be fully developed. In general, some points made included: showing how much we value our forests by being in them in a good way; increasing public education including finding places for Frank to present his presentation, and also use of short videos; developing consumer pressure strategies; developing more diverse tactical strategies for getting changes in provincial policies; focusing on climate action issues.

Mark D’Arcy remarked, “I hope there is such a multitude of events on this issue in the next few months that none of us can keep track of them.”

13427865_10208629272382259_8775867326137825778_n

All four New Brunswick Council of Canadians chapters Present and Accounted For!


Main Points for letters of support re Kopit/EFN aboriginal title claim,
which are to make clear that allies support this legal action:

  1. acknowledge the ongoing injustices endured by Mi’kmaq People, all of which have been done to steal the land and resources from the People, so the title and rights of the People must be affirmed by the courts
  2. recognize that Canadian laws and governments cannot adequately protect the regional natural environment, presently the only hope for protection of the natural environment is through assertion of Aboriginal title, which will result in the Mi’kmaq people being in a caretaking position for the region’s resources, lands, waters, and air
  3. undo the corporate capture of New Brunswick and help promote genuine democracy in this region, where all people have a say in matters that pertain to and govern their everyday lives

Address to:
Kenneth Francis, Speaker for Kopit Lodge at Elsipogtog First Nation

Mail to Kopit/EFN lawyer:
Bruce McIvor, First Peoples Law, 111 Water Street,
Suite 300, Vancouver, BC   V6B 1A7

Email:
To:
kgunn@firstpeopleslaw.com,
CC. to: imw.legalfund@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Remarks to the Hon. Brian Kenny, the Most Important Cabinet Minister in New Brunswick Government

On March 2, 2016, 17 member groups in the New Brunswick Environment Network (NBEN) attended a 1.5 hours meeting with Brian Kenny, Minister of the Environment for New Brunswick, and three of his senior staff. Thank you to NBEN’s Mary Ann Coleman and Raissa Marks for organizing this opportunity for an exchange of information and issues.

Major items discussed included: how “regional planning” might help with environmental protection (eg. through increased mandates to the regional service district committees); water protection legislation – including wetlands, and enforcement of riparian buffer regulations; the Environmental Trust Fund; and, the urgency of climate action and moving on to renewables.

During this session, the Ministerial staff set out their current major priorities and here is what I recorded from their remarks in approximate order of urgency:

  • modernizing municipal legislation (now 50 years old apparently)
  • updating the regulations associated with this legislation
  • working with other departments to define priorities and capture these in “statements of interest”
  • a comprehensive water strategy
  • improvements to wetlands policies

Concurrent with all that is making the department’s work more transparent, and various digital information enhancements that are already underway.

While looking at this list, it is important to remember that Brian Kenny is Minister for the Environment AND Local Government (one department). On reflection, it appears that they are putting their eggs in the basket of local government as their approach to improving protection of the environment. An interesting idea – not adequate certainly, but might well help if done properly. A lot can be accomplished through land use planning tools if used properly. So folks, if you want to make a point on municipal or regional planning systems, policies, issues, concerns, etc. — now’s the time!

DSCN1536

I took this photo so am not in it. That’s the Minister at the head table, on the left in front of the screen. I attended on behalf of the Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians. As always, when I have the chance to speak truth to power, I think about which of my closest allies are not “At this Table,” and what they might like me to communicate that seems appropriate to the situation.

Here is a picture of me and my confrere Mark D’Arcy who attended on behalf of the Fredericton Chapter of the Council of Canadians. image
Mark used his allotted time to speak about climate change issues and the need for the Government of New Brunswick to do its own EIA on the Pipeline proposal. Mark strongly emphasized the Minister’s Duty of Care in regards to the possibly serious, even lethal, risks related to both these issues. This photo was taken by Caroline Lubbedarcy, who represented Stop Spraying in New Brunswick, and used her alloted time to press for a full review of health and environmental hazards of herbicide spraying by forestry companies and NB Power, as well as an end to the spraying.

It is also important to mention Jim Emberger was present, speaking on behalf of the New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance. He addressed many of the points included in NBASGA’s Statement on the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing Report, including the lack of social license, the science case against fracking, and the urgency of NB government undertaking nation-to-nation relationship-building with First Nations . Later in the meeting, Jim spoke about the importance of government recognizing that each region of the province is very different, something he has learned through NBASGA.

Unfortunately, none of our Indigenous environmental protection allies were present. For me, a smudge and a reading of the Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth would have been a welcome addition. Next time?

In the order of our NBEN agenda, I was given the opportunity to make the final presentation, before the wrap-up. Following are my remarks…


 

“The Final Report of the New Brunswick Commission on Hydraulic Fracturing, released last week, speaks of the distrust, mistrust, and alienation of New Brunswickers regarding our provincial government. The Commission heard this loud and clear in Kent County.  In fact, Commission members seemed to stop in their tracks and feel overwhelmed by our perspectives here, about how government has betrayed us.  (∗ : in the footnote on this post are links to submissions that prove this sentiment.)

“Another example of that betrayal connects to something that was discussed at the outset of this meeting today. Our Kent Regional District Service Commission passed resolutions unanimously opposing the new Forestry Management Act, and opposing Shale Gas Fracking Exploration in Kent County (actual vote 15-1 abstention, I believe). But, Mr. Minister, as you know, there is no systemic pathway for resolutions from the Service Districts into the government here in Fredericton. The fact that the Government of New Brunswick totally ignored the only local body that represents our municipalities and local service districts contributed mightily to our sense that government deserted us to our fate of being a “Sacrifice Zone” for resource extraction industries.

“I am going to assume that you, Mr. Minister, and your three staff at the head table, have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, perhaps godchildren… When thinking about the future they will face, it is clear and evident that your Ministry is the most important department in the Government of New Brunswick.

“At the core of your mandate is ensuring environmental sustainability in this province we all love. You have the tools and responsibilities for all manner of impact assessment, regulatory powers, inspection and enforcement services, in order to protect our environment. There is a huge urgency to bring all these into active service due to the ecoapocolypse that is lurking over our shoulders due to our rapidly deteriorating, changing climate.

“For us in Kent County, your department certainly has the most urgent and important mandate in this government:

  • We love our Acadian Forest, and all its inhabitants.  We want our Forest Relations to survive and thrive. This means stopping the rapacious clear-cutting, the softwood plantations, and the spraying of poisonous herbicides.
  • We want water protection legislation for our fresh drinking water, our inland fisheries, and our precious wetlands.
  • We want shale gas mothballed for the long term by legislation. Your department’s mandate re: “impact” and “sustainability” strengthen your hand at arguing this in cabinet.
  • We are passionate about biodiversity. The diversity of wildlife in our region — the forests, the waters, and the soils — contributes directly to the livelihoods of virtually everyone in Kent County, all the way down in scale to the bees we rely on to pollinate our fruits and vegetables in our gardens — so take a look at the neonicotinoids as well, please.
  • We fully support implementation of the Health Impact Assessment (HIA) process, proposed by the former Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eilish Cleary to the NB Fracking Commission. The Commission endorsed this approach but in an inappropriate and ineffectual manner. An HIA trumps an EIA, and as Dr. Cleary pointed out, the current EIA processes will and can be addressed and included within the broader scope of the HIA process she outlined. This is what we want to see. It will begin to restore our confidence that government is capable of looking after us over here in Kent County.

“On behalf of our group, the Kent County Chapter of the Council of Canadians, and all our united Mi’kmaq, Acadian and Anglo environmentalist allies in Kent County, I beg that you hear what I am saying. There is no time to lose on these matters. Please instruct your staff to walk into all interdepartmental meetings — and you, please,Minister Kenny, walk into all Cabinet meetings — with your heads held high, insisting on full implementation of the environmental protections your broad mandate offers.

“Yours is the most important Ministry in the New Brunswick government. Our future generations are depending on you.”

Ann Pohl, Chairperson, Council of Canadians – Kent County Chapter, March 2, 2016

 

 

DontPanicalltreatypeople

∗ See for example: “Powerless Citizen” and “Illusion of Certainty”,  Some of the Human Rights Issues Related to Fracking , Lise Johnson’s Story, No Shale…, Kent County Chapter Council of CanadiansNotre environnement, notre choix / Our Environment, Our ChoiceYvon Daigle’s Submission to the Commission, The Requirement to be InformedIt’s about Trust, To Make Critical Decisions, We Must Employ Critical Thinking, Personal Submission to the Shale Gas CommissionGroupe de développement durable du Pays de Cocagne Sustainable Development Groupe.

THIS IS GOING TO HURT

We are in a real mess.

Continue reading

NB CMOH Dr. Cleary’s staff will be researching effects of RoundUp, Vision, and other glyphosate herbicides

stop-the-spray-not-safe-not-effective-not-necessaryOn August 14 2015, Dr. Eilish Cleary — Chief Medical Officer of Health for NB –responded to some of the points raised in our August 4th Kent County NB Council of Canadians communication to her. In this document, we addressed multiple concerns about the use of glyphosate herbicide sprays on agricultural crops and in our crown forest reserves.

Dr. Cleary concurs that the sprays are probable carcinogens. She has committed that her staff will be doing further research on the level of risk and what steps might need to be taken to protect the public. She expressed that her staff will pay particular attention to the point we raised regarding the high incidence of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma among men in NB, and the finding from the World Health Organization’s IARC panel that this might well be related to the widespread use of these herbicides in our province.  FYI, here is our follow-up letter to Dr. Cleary…

September 24, 2015
coc.kent.county.nb@gmail.com

Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
HSBC Place, P. O. Box 5100
Fredericton, NB E3B 5G8
transmitted by email to: Eilish.Cleary@gnb.ca

Re: Follow-up on your August 14 2015 communication regarding
Glyphosate-based Herbicides and Health/Environmental Concerns

Dear Dr. Eilish Cleary:
At our September 9 2015 meeting of the Kent County NB Chapter of the Council of
Canadians, we discussed the correspondence we received back from you in response to our 5-page letter (dated August 4) about glyphosate herbicides. I was asked by our
members to share the following with you.

We deeply appreciate that you are going to look into the points we have raised regarding the human and environmental health risks of glyphosate herbicides. We fully understand that it will take some time to conduct this research and then to reach conclusions on what steps the NB Department of Public Health may feel are necessary to protect the public.

In the interim period, however, our members and other residents of Kent County
communities, as well as other New Brunswick residents, are potentially put at risk. This is especially true for those who live and/or work near areas that get sprayed. Examples that have been mentioned to us include: men cutting wood and seeing the lot
next to them get sprayed, with no warning; a farmer’s field where the crop was sprayed to dry it up, and seeing flock after flock of migrating geese land in this field to eat the grain; forest areas with many berries is sprayed, but people still go to the woods to pick berries and such right after the spray, – this occurs before the die-off begins, so they do not know see the warning evidence that the area has already been sprayed.

Compliance is another concern. Someone mentioned that a field near her home was
sprayed and she was concerned so she checked the regulations. The spraying was too
close to residences and also to a watercourse. This raises the issue of how one assesses dangers or risks: by what is supposed to be done, or what is actually done?
In addition there is a general feeling that the “warning” signs that are posted are too small and often not located in a publicly visible area. The purpose of these signs is to alert the public that this spray is on the ground and people should use deep precautions.

As well, some new information has become available about these chemicals during the
past six weeks.

Our members feel strongly that, based on what is already known, in the interim you could recommend better, larger, more visible posting of warning signs both for forestry and for agricultural uses. As well, advance notice of spraying on hydro lines and in forests should be hung in public locations such as pharmacies, convenience stores, post offices, and other places where there are local bulletin boards. These maps could also be posted online and promoted through social media.

We look forward to seeing your report when it is done. Thanks for taking our concerns
seriously.

Respectfully yours,
<signed>
Ann Pohl
Chairperson, Kent County NB Chapter, Council of Canadians

gerrybanner2

Men in New Brunswick have an exceptionally high rate of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The World Health Organization says that Glyphosate defoliant sprays, used “safely” on NB forests/fields/roadsides for decades, cause this rare cancer… Please read on to learn what valid science has uncovered about these herbicides…

Moncton-demo-pic-1-IMG_0601
August 3, 2015
Kent County NB Chapter, Council of Canadians
transmitted by email from: 
coc.kent.county.nb@gmail.com

Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
HSBC Place, P. O. Box 5100
Fredericton, NB E3B 5G8
also transmitted by email to:
Eilish.Cleary@gnb.ca

Re: Glyphosate-based Herbicides and Health/Environmental Concerns

Dear Dr. Eilish Cleary,

I am writing to ask for your opinion on the risks of the continued use of glyphosate herbicidal products. Under trade names such as Forza, Vantage Forestry, Vision, Vision Max, and Roundup, it is used widely in New Brunswick for:

  • forestry management, to promote cultivation of soft-wood trees;

  • clearing roadsides and hydro-lines;

  • agricultural purposes – at seeding time to prevent weed plants from competing with desired seedlings, and to dry off cereal crops at harvest time (by slightly killing them).

According to research recently released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), this broad-spectrum weedkiller is a probable carcinogen for human beings and animals. In an interview on CBC Radio, Dr. John McLaughlin, a Canadian environmental health epidemiologist who was a member of IARC’s glyphosate panel, explained that a wide range of qualified scientists took part in this “rock-solid”, “rigorous” and “transparent” research study. He also said that these scientists were pre-screened to ensure they had “no conflict of interest.” Dr. McLaughlin said a major reason for this reclassification is a clear association between workplace exposure and the incidence of “one rare cancer”: non-Hodgkins lymphoma. These findings caught my attention.

defoliant-spraying-in-new-brunswick

I live in a hunting, fishing, lumbering and farming community. Most of my neighbours are – like me – troubled by spraying of glyphosate in our forest, and on fields near people’s homes. After the reclassification was announced, I became very concerned about the health of the (predominantly) men who are exposed to these chemicals through their work, as well as neighbours who live near areas being sprayed. Sometimes it seems as if every second person in Kent County has cancer.

I went past “concerned” and “troubled” to alarmed, when I learned that the Public Health Agency of Canada has found an exceptionally high incidence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma among men in New Brunswick, the same exact “rare” cancer that is correlated by the IARC/WHO panel with glyphosate pesticides.

The US non-profit group Beyond Pesticides reports that in 1985 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided to classify glyphosate as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ based on tumors in laboratory animals. This group, Beyond Pesticides, has suggested that “industry influence” may account for the EPA rescinding this classification. After the EPA removed this warning with apparently no reason, the chemical became the most widely used herbicide in the US, and perhaps the world. The change was certainly lucrative for its manufacturer, Monsanto.

gerrybanner1

The decision to use these herbicides is not about jobs. There are more jobs in looking after our renewable forest resources using the old ways – like silviculture – that do not involve toxic chemicals on the environment that sustains us all. Use of these chemicals is about fattening the bottom line of corporations.

From what I have read, numerous scientifically rigourous and valid studies have concluded that glyphosate formulations are – for example – toxic to fish, a common contaminant in agricultural soil, genotoxic, an oxidative stressor, etc. 385 scientists from around the world have launched an online, Independent Scientists Manifesto on Glyphosate, which makes a “call” to “governments at all levels to ban the spraying of glyphosate herbicides.” Their advocacy “manifesto” says in part:

…“probable human carcinogen” is only a small part of the known toxicity of glyphosate herbicides. Chronic exposure to glyphosate herbicides is associated not only with cancers, but also with infertility, impotence, abortions, birth defects, neurotoxicity, hormonal disruption, immune reactions, an unnamed fatal kidney disease, chronic diarrhoea, autism and other ailments.

In addition to human diseases, glyphosate herbicides are linked to more than 40 new and re-emerging major crop diseases. They are causing irreparable harm to the entire food web; including the plant kingdom, beneficial microbes that supply nutrients to our crops and soils, fish and other aquatic life, amphibians, butterflies, bees, birds, mammals, and the human microbiome.”

Scientists are usually a reclusive and very cautious lot. Why are so many willing to stick their necks out on a controversial matter like this? This on its own is a huge warning signal. It seems clear they are driven by their professional ethics and this is the only way they can find to say these important things.

Also of great concern to me are the possible gastrointestinal impacts of widespread glyphosate herbicide use. In recent decades, we are seeing an epidemic of gastrointestinal disorders (e.g. food allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac symptoms/disease, “wheat belly,” Chrons, Colitis). Glyphosate is used in agriculture in two ways: to eliminate weed competition at planting time; and, to dry up cereal crops just before harvest (actually killing the crop to ripen it). A recent study in the United Kingdom found glyphosate in up to 30% of commercial bread samples. Because bread is a staple for almost everyone, and not everyone has access to organic grain products, the UK Soil Association is calling for an immediate ban on use of glyphosate sprays for wheat, both as a pre-harvest weed killer and to help the crop ripen faster.

notsaladdressing

It is not only humans who are at risk. Rod E. Cumberland is a wildlife biologist who retired from the provincial civil service in 2013. He has said, “’Herbicides kill hardwood trees and deer eat hardwood trees.” Over “roughly the same period of time” that glyphosate use has been widespread in our forests, “deer populations in New Brunswick have plummeted to fewer than 80,000 today, from well over 200,000.” Rod Cumberland speaks with authority, having been responsible for “managing” New Brunswick’s deer herds for over two decades.

gerrybanner2

The Conservation Council of New Brunswick (CCNB) has researched glyphosate sprays as part of their forest health protection mandate. CCNB is deeply concerned about the impact of this defoliant in regards to the integrity of the fauna of the endangered Acadian Forest as a whole, as well as forest wildlife, and humans who are exposed second-hand. Further, CCNB observes that New Brunswick is the only province that pays to have its forests sprayed with these chemicals” and “mechanical site preparation, planting and spraying of our public lands” can “exceed $1,000/ha.”

I work closely with Mi’kmaq environmental protectors in this Sikniktuk District of Mi’kma’ki. The Peace & Friendship Treaties do not discuss surrender of resources or land, so New Brunswick is unceded territory of the Wabanaki confederacy of First Peoples (which includes all of Mi’kma’ki), who signed these treaties. To the point: what is commonly called “Crown Land” should more legitimately be called “Shared Treaty Land.” The damage done to forest ecology with these chemicals is a major concern to Indigenous Peoples of this region, who “Aboriginal” rights to sustainable use of the forests for all future time.

Prior to sending you this communication, Dr. Cleary, I shared the contents with the members of the Iapjiw Maliaptasiktɨtiew Wskwitqamu (Protecting the Earth for Future Generations) Consultation Delegation headquartered at Kopit Lodge in Elsipogtog First Nation. They asked me to let you know that they understand the way everything connects in the Forest: in fact the whole world is connected as one living being. They see all the damage done to the forest because they have knowledge of the forest handed down to them through the generations. It is not possible to justify poisoning the forest and all the beings that live there. No matter how “minimal” the danger might appear to scientists, it is unimaginable: there are no “acceptable risks” in this case. Further, they have never been consulted on whether this treatment of the forest is acceptable and can be accommodated by them.

The Government of New Brunswick just released “notice of intent” to spray these defoliants on 16,000 hectares of our forest beginning August 10, 2015. It seems simply wrong that our cash-strapped government is paying corporations to make us sick, all for the sake of corporations’ profits.

As of July 29/15, the Government of New Brunswick’s website still says that the World Health Organization (parent to the IARC panel) is not concerned about glyphosate herbicide formulations. The extremely influential J.D. Irving (JDI) corporation seems to be brushing-off this scientific finding. An April 1, 2015 CBC news story quotes Ms. Keith, spokesperson for JDI, saying IARC “provides no new scientific data to support their conclusion,” and “all national regulatory review bodies have classified glyphosate as unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk.”

Heath Canada recently concluded a review of glyphosate and concluded it was not unsafe. Rod Cumberland reviewed Health Canada’s study, commenting on its deficiencies, saying it: is limited to glyphosate only and excludes toxic adjuvants and emulsifiers also used in these herbicides; denies any residual impact of water, soil or food but recent research has concluded differently; and, most significantly, relies about 90% on older research, ignoring many papers published in the past 10 years which address issues such as those discussed above – especially cancer, and cell malformations in the gastrointestinal and reproductive systems.

stop-the-spray-not-safe-not-effective-not-necessary

Dr. Cleary, you wrote in 2012 that a huge question for public health officials is “what is the cost of being wrong about estimating risk?” You also wrote, “Public health decision making depends on… ethical principles” such as “beneficence and non-maleficence” and doing “what is good for the whole community, not just individuals” (under the law, “individuals” can be corporations or human beings). Please see the attached reference list: in view of the research I have been able to assemble, it seems to be time for invocation of the Precautionary Principle. I know I am asking you to step into a difficult situation but you must realize the population of this province has deep admiration for your professionalism. I look forward to your response. 

Very respectfully yours,

Ann Pohl
Spokesperson, Kent County NB Chapter, Council of Canadians

Hotlinks to Sources for Information (in order of topics raised)

  1. Carcinogenicity of tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate (Lancet journal article about the IARC/WHO panel and their conclusions)

  2. Gylphosate: IARC MONOGRAPHS (some of their research findings)

  3. Threat to Human Health? (CBC) (Terry Seguin interviews Dr. John McLaughlin from IARC panel)

  4. Herbicide chemical glyphosate ‘probably carcinogenic,’ WHO agency finds (CBC)

  5. Cancer in Canada – An Epidemiologic Overview: A report based on the Cancer Incidence Atlas — Volume 2, 2000-2006 (February 2014; HP35-43/2014E-PDF; ISBN: 978-1-100-22759-7; page 19: “Significantly elevated rates were observed among… males in New Brunswick.”

  6. Glyphosate Classified Carcinogenic by International Cancer Agency, Group Calls on U.S. to End Herbicide’s Use and Advance Alternatives (Beyond Pesticides)

  7. Chemical Watch Factsheet: Glyphosate (Beyond Pesticides) (extensive literature review; addresses multiple issues including resistant weeds and general environmental toxicity)

  8. Independent Scientists’ Manifesto on Glyphosate

  9. Cytotoxic and DNA-damaging properties of glyphosate and Roundup in human-derived buccal epithelial cells (abstract for article regarding impact on cells/DNA).

  10. Phase-out Herbicides (CCNB)

  11. Tracy Glynn on herbicide use in our Crown forest (CCNB)

  12. Cancer classification warrants phase-out of widely-used herbicide (CCNB)

  13. What you need to know about what’s sprayed on our forests (CCNB)

  14. Glyphosate in our food: Carcinogenic Glyphosate Linked to DNA Damage, as Residues Are Found in Bread (Beyond Pesticides)

  15. Over 60% of breads sold in the UK contain pesticide residues, tests show. (The Guardian)

  16. UK Soil Association calls for ban on Glyphosate: the world’s most widely sold weedkiller

  17. Rod Cumberland, deer biologist, responds to J.D. Irving on herbicides and deer (several relevant links about forest ecology issues on this page)

  18. GLYPHOSATE OVERVIEW (comprehensive literature review focussed on agricultural uses; including toxicity throughout the environment and gastrointestical issues in humans)

  19. A Former GMO Scientist Sends An Open Letter to Canada’s Minister of Health (addresses toxicity factors in agricultural uses, including issues arising such as food allergies)

  20. Be informed about herbicides (GNB – “not harmful”, “do not cause cancer” etc.)

  21. ISSUES: Shooting down Health Canada’s re-assessment of glyphosate.
    (Dr. Rod Cumberland; an email to all NB MLA’s critiqueing Health Canada’s re-assessment of glyphosate; 2015)

  22. Proposed Re-evaluation Decision PRVD2015-01, Glyphosate (possible relabelling)

  23. Crown Land Herbicide Program (2015 spray season notice)

  24. Chief Medical Officer of Health’s Recommendations Concerning Shale Gas Development in New Brunswick (2012) (pgs 14-15: “Public Health Ethical Considerations”)

     

Sources/credits for Images used in this post:

protest in moncton: http://nbmediacoop.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Moncton-demo-pic-1-IMG_0601.jpg
decimated forest: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/nb-power-s-herbicide-essentially-non-toxic-to-humans-wildlife-1.3161385
ain’t salad dressing: http://www.sott.net/article/260280-How-GMO-farming-and-food-is-making-our-gut-flora-unfriendly
original art work (habitat x 2, moncton protest) by the AAAA+ (amazing Acadian airbrush artist) Gerry LeBlanc: gerry.leblanc.98@facebook.com
no safe sprays: http://jamesrobertdeal.com/roundup-is-toxic/