Why Should I Care?
The spraying of glyphosate in New Brunswick forests is an issue which affects us all. This herbicide is sprayed during silviculture process and has both ecological and economic repercussions. The spraying of glyphosate on public land completed by industry, is funded using public tax dollars. A recent freedom of information has shown that in 2017 alone, $2,860,000 public tax dollars were spent on spraying in the province. Beyond the financial cost, there is an environmental cost to spraying; the New Brunswick deer population is rapidly declining, impacting our ecosystem and those who choose to participate in activities such as hunting.
The spraying of the glyphosate and its additives is currently happening throughout the province. This began back in the 1970’s when natural forests were clear cut and softwood plantations were developed. Historically and still today, the wood harvested from these plantations has been used by larger pulp and paper manufacturers . These larger corporations have created a monopoly in which they have driven out locally owned forestry businesses within rural areas that have provided opportunities for work.
Treating the environment with the herbicide glyphosate has multiple consequences. As the spraying of our New Brunswick forests continues our natural plant diversity is diminishing. This spraying happens after clearcutting and before plantations of softwood trees are planted, what this does is create a monoculture of plants, shrubs and trees. Currently our hardwood trees are not given the time or chance to refurbish themselves, this means that the hardwood and other small shrubs that deer, moose and other woodland animals feed off of are becoming harder to find.
After the first year of application the plants and shrubs that once grew naturally do not regenerate as plentiful. Invertebrates and some of the fungus that the voles and mice eat are destroyed, showing us that when an animal or food source so small is in danger it’s effects flow through the food chain, and you lose the diversity of the ecosystem. Due to the destruction of our forests wildlife populations have begun to seek new areas and sources for food which has resulted in the migration of many deer and other small animals to more urban areas. Species that tend to regroup in specific areas on a seasonal basis are forced to seek refuge in other areas, stretching their territorial boundaries, this also disrupts their breeding and nesting behaviors. In fact there has been an on going decrease in the New Brunswick deer population, which is believed to be a direct result of the spraying happening, this can be seen in harvesting numbers which are represented in figures 1.1 and 1.2 below. Other effects on wildlife that stem from the spraying of glyphosate include the damage done to an animal when the herbicide comes in contact with their fur and skin, through inhaled mist, and through eating sprayed foliage. Animals and aquatic life are also exposed to herbicides when water contamination occurs through drift or runoff from sprayed areas affecting our watersheds.
1 Aerial Herbicide Spraying- Poisoning the Maine (and New Hampshire) Woods – Daisy Goodman
2 Calls to end “ludicrous” herbicide spraying in public forests in New Brunswick – Marc Montgomery
Three investigative articles highlight the cause for concern re government working too closely with industry:
– Walrus: “Big Agro on Campus” by Bruce Livesey. LINK: https://thewalrus.ca/big-agro-on-campus/
– National Observer’s “Has Ottawa Sold Out to Big Agro and Its Toxic Chemicals?” by Bruce Livesey stated: “the Auditor General of Canada has carried out three investigations into the PMRA since 2003 — and found it wanting.” LINK: https://www.nationalobserver.com/2017/07/25/news/has-ottawa-sold-out-big-agro-and-its-toxic-chemical
-National Observer’s “Ottawa Ignoring Hazards of Top Pesticides Sold in Canada” by Bruce Livesey. LINK: https://www.nationalobserver.com/2017/08/09/news/ottawa-ignoring-hazards-top-pesticides-sold-canada
The Auditor General of Canada carried out three investigations into the Pest Management Regulatory Agency of Canada (PMRA) between 2003 and 2017. The most RECENT Auditor General of Canada’s report of 2018 (another New Brunswicker in Ottawa!) again finds that health Canada and their ability to protect our health in disrepair:
This auditor general’s report was released in 2018 on the state of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA): http://www.oag-bvg.gc.ca/internet/English/parl_cesd_201810_01_e_43145.html . This report outlines that there is more need for progress on CEPA as it has made none in 10 years. Proposed amendments followed: https://www.grnewsletters.com/archive/meg/Amend-toxins-law-for-healthy-smart-choices-with-modern-science-551647101.html