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Commentary: The politics of pesticides could get much worse

 Leaders of agricultural groups in Canada often use the same phrases when speaking to the media.

If the topic is a new ag technology, they’ll usually describe it as “another tool in the tool kit.”

When the topic is agricultural trade or barriers to trade, they’ll say that Canada’s regulatory systems are “world class and decisions are solely founded on science.”

The claim that Canada’s regulatory systems are based on science may now be outdated.

The weight of evidence suggests that decisions around pesticides and new ag technologies have become political.

Public concerns and politicians responding to those concerns have become part of the regulatory process.

“What’s interesting is this government has been at pains to say that politicians shouldn’t interfere with the scientific conclusions of regulators on environmental policy and climate change, but that is exactly what they appear to be doing on pesticide regulation,” a regulatory consultant told The Western Producer in October.

People in Canada’s crop protection industry, innovators and ag investors have made similar comments in the last 12 to 36 months, claiming that something has changed in Ottawa.

Many point to a decision around glyphosate as the prime example of political interference.

Backing up six years, in April 2017 Health Canada released its re-evaluation decision for glyphosate, the most common herbicide in the world.

Health Canada scientists made it abundantly clear that glyphosate is safe.

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