Approach to pesticides dangerous

Congratulations to those seeking an end to pesticides in the Shuswap, specifically in the City of Salmon Arm.

Congratulations to those seeking an end to pesticides in the Shuswap, specifically in the City of Salmon Arm.

Because of knee-jerk opposition to such an ending by obvious vested interests, it’s important to revisit the “Precautionary Principle” for your readers.

The Precautionary Principle states that if the consequences of some action are unknown, but are believed to have potentially serious negative effects, then that action should be avoided until more about such effects is known. Simple, isn’t it?

A related concept – “Preventive Anticipation” – affirms the willingness to take such precautionary measures on the grounds that delay will ultimately be even more dangerous to society and the environment, and in the long run, will be irresponsibly selfish and unfair to future generations as well.

If we’ve learned anything about Earth and its natural systems, it is surely this: the environment is incredibly complex and we only fool ourselves if we think we fully understand this complexity. It follows that the consequences of far too many human actions, especially the ill-advised rush to use new technology, is often unpredictable.  Already, our track-record is poor for the use of many herbicides and pesticides such as DDT, 2,4-D, and 2,4,5-T, dioxin, ozone-destroying CFCs, medically dangerous pharmaceuticals like thalidomide and Vioxx, and some agro-chemicals, including genetically modified growth-enhancing hormones, and injudiciously over-used antibiotics.

So, the ‘Precautionary Principle’ and ‘Preventive Anticipation’ just represent good old common sense.

What a mystery, then, that government, business, and all too many of us, should be so slow to implement this common sense.

Here’s another mystery.  Presuming a person to be innocent until proven guilty is a commendable cornerstone of our justice system; but whoa! How did we ever come to accept that a chemical compound and technology itself, should automatically enjoy that same presumed innocence?  Obviously, the reverse should be true for any chemicals and new technology that impact on us and the environment, that is guilty until proven innocent, beyond reasonable doubt, of course.

Tom Crowley


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