Media Release

Health and environmental activists call for moratorium on improperly tested pesticides to reduce risk of breast cancer

July 28, 1999 - World Breast Cancer Conference (Ottawa): A group of Ottawa health and environmental activists called today for a moratorium on all pesticides which have not yet been proven safe by Health Canada.

Elizabeth May, Executive Director of Sierra Club of Canada, stated that increased rates of breast cancer are parallel and linked with the increased presence of pesticides in the environment, many of which accumulate in breast tissue.

"We need a moratorium on these toxic chemicals until we have established their safety through improved testing standards," said May. "Current testing standards are woefully inadequate to measure the real health impacts of such bio-accumulative toxins."

Peggy Land, Director of the Pesticides Campaign for the Sierra Club of Canada, added that Sierra Club is encouraging municipalities across Canada to reduce or ban non-essential cosmetic use of pesticides on public and private property.

"This is a public health issue," said Land. "We need to put our health ahead of the bank accounts of pesticides companies, and to re-claim our right to live without these poisons."

Ottawa-Carleton Regional Councillor Diane Holmes, Co-Chair of the Regional Working Group on the Health Dangers of Urban Use Pesticides said the Region of Ottawa-Carleton has already moved successfully to ban the use of pesticides on regionally-owned property and in 1998, with the Regional Medical Officer of Health, petitioned the Ontario government to permit restrictions of pesticide use on private property.

"The province declined this request," said Holmes. " But we will continue to push for the right to regulate pesticides on private property until they are proven safe to use."

Peggy Land and Diane Holmes coordinated a workshop at the World Breast Cancer Conference on the links between breast cancer, pesticides and lactation, and the need for public health action to reduce pesticide exposure.

Land noted that more than 20 scientific studies have pointed to the positive impact of breast-feeding on reducing breast cancer risk. But this may well be due, in part at least, to the flushing out of of carcinogenic toxins, such as highly suspect pesticides. However, she said "not all women can breast-feed and the protective effects seem, at best, to be temporary."

The region of Ottawa-Carleton’s working group on Health Dangers of Urban-Use Pesticides (HDUUP) is a coalition of activists who include health and legal professionals who have been working for three years to promote alternatives to pesticides and to reduce citizens' exposure to pesticides.


Sierra Club of Canada, (613) 241-4611