Home > Court directs precaution in pesticide review case
December 2nd, 2011
Environmental Law Centre
Court directs precaution in pesticide review case
A recent decision from the Federal Court of Canada is notable for its interpretation of the how the precautionary principle must guide government decisions when dealing with scientific uncertainty. The case revolved around a “special review” request made by an individual to the Minister of Health under the Pest Control Products Act to conduct an assessment of the pesticide glyphosate (containing polyoxyethlene tallow amines, POEA) and whether the pesticide posed an unacceptable risk to human health and the environment.
The focus of the decisions was the impact or potential impact of glyphosate with POEA on amphibians in ephemeral wetlands in forestry treatments. As application of the pesticide to water bodies is prohibited the focus of the case was on ephemeral wetlands, which are characterized by the temporary presence of water, often associated with such things as spring melt or heave precipitation events. (There may be broader implications of the glyphosate review if it is found that it does pose an unacceptable risk to amphibians in ephemeral wetlands as similar products may be in use in commercial agricultural treatments.)