OUR MEDIA RELEASE
JUNE 16, 2023
Stop Spraying NB responds to Federal Minister of Health’s response to Glyphosate petition initiated by documentary maker Jennifer Baichwal and tabled by MP Jenica Atwin on May 2, 2023.
FREDERICTON, N.B. – Stop Spraying NB (SSNB) just learned that the Federal Health Minister has responded to a petition to ban glyphosate initiated by documentary maker Jennifer Baichwal and tabled by MP Jenica Atwin on May 2, 2023. This response was tabled at the House of Commons on June 15, 2023.
SSNB’s mandate is focused on the use of herbicides on Crown (public) land and by NB Power. Therefore our response to the Health Minister’s response is focused on statements made about glyphosate use in forestry.
The Minister of Health claims this: “ With regards to glyphosate use in forestry, Health Canada has concluded that this use is acceptable, when label directions are followed. These findings were based on an extensive review of the available scientific information on glyphosate. A forest cultivation site would receive one or at most two treatments early on in a 50-to-80-year cultivation cycle.”
This statement by the Federal Minister of Health does not reflect the actual pattern of use in New Brunswick’s Crown (public) forests. GNB releases data of sprayed crown land PIDs in a data dump that is accessible to, but not usable by the public. However, SSNB has been able to create an easily usable Historical Spray Map using this government data: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/View/index.html?appid=3e6db7d3e2e94169afd915cadf9028f5 .
Our Historical Spray Map of NB has given us the opportunity to find every spray block and to review how many times it has been sprayed with herbicides (glyphosate) up to now. Our spray map shows all the spray blocks on Crown (public) land since 1969, released by GNB. Crunching all the information is a very large task. So far we have extracted this information about some of the MANY spray blocks:- 1554 blocks have been sprayed twice.- 107 blocks have been sprayed three times.- 8 blocks have been sprayed four times.
One of these blocks was sprayed in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2003. This is 4 spray treatments in a span of 6 years.
This is a sample of the information held in the Historical Spray Map, but we at SSNB feel that what we have found so far is enough to raise some serious concerns about herbicide use in our Crown (public) forests.
Dr. Caroline Lubbe-D’Arcy, Chair of Stop Spraying New Brunswick has this to say about the response by the Minister of Health: “The Federal Minister of Health is making assumptions when he quotes what the PMRA has stated around forestry use of glyphosate. Apparently the PMRA is unaware of what is taking place in New Brunswick with regards to the forestry use of an agent (glyphosate) that the PMRA approves with assumptions that are not factual.”
“In New Brunswick we have extremely biodiverse and unique Wabanaki-Acadian forests which comprises 32 native tree species, with a large percentage of hardwood trees” says Dr. Lubbe-D’Arcy. “The amount of clearcutting of these forests on Crown (public) land and the conversion after clearcutting to sprayed softwood plantations with very few species is an issue with regards to increasing concerns around biodiversity. Wabanaki-Acadian forests on Crown (public) land are mismanaged with the permission of our provincial government. This mismanagement escalated in 2014. There are three troubling facts: NB experiences the most intense forest herbicide spraying in Canada, and many blocks are sprayed more frequently than the PMRA assumes. 1/3 of all forest glyphosate use in Canada lands on New Brunswick’s forests (1).”
Québec stopped forest herbicide spraying in 2001 because their MLAs listened to their citizens. While developing their forest strategy, Québec conducted 3 rounds of extensive public consultation between 1988 and 1997. For the last 2 decades, Quebec has successfully managed their public forests without herbicides, but instead managed them with manual silviculture. Their forest strategy is ecosystem-based, has an auction system (so does Maine), plants larger seedlings, and includes careful logging around advanced growth (CLAAG, or CPRS in French).
Both the economy and the environment benefit from this approach. Compared with New Brunswick, Quebec has a much higher job creation per 100,000 hectares of forests. The combination of manual silviculture and selective cutting will decrease and minimize the net amount of carbon dioxide loss when growing and harvesting. And healthy mixed forests also provide an important natural wildfire defence around our rural communities and city suburbs. Hardwood, broadleaf trees such as aspen and birch have a higher moisture content than softwood conifers so they burn at a lower intensity, providing greater protection of homes and businesses from catastrophic wildfires.
(1) page 6 “Pattern of Use in NB” of the Action Plan on Glyphosate by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer on glyphosate https://www2.gnb.ca/content/dam/gnb/Departments/h-s/pdf/en/Publications/GlyphosateActionPlanResults.pdf