Wednesday, May 22, 2024
May 22, 2024

Editorial: Adverse effects

Since a Ministry of Forests-contracted airplane sprayed Foray 48B on a small part of Salt Spring May 6, fear and anger has been a measurable byproduct.

Some people concerned about the aerial spraying of the long-used pesticide to help eradicate a small spongy moth infestation centred on the Elizabeth Drive area feel residents were not given adequate notice about the plan.

While some may have been aware that spraying was in the works at some point, many did not know that May 6 had been chosen as the first date. Postcards may have been mailed advising generally of the intention to spray, but the specific date and time was available on short notice via a few roadside signs and the spongy moth website. Even Driftwood readers only heard of a likely “late April/early May” timeframe in a March 27 story. So it is understandable how many people were not aware of the May 6 event. Last-minute weather plans notwithstanding, the Ministry of Forests needs to look at its methods of giving notice and do better to ensure affected residents are informed when a day is picked. The ministry’s advice is for those concerned to stay indoors while spraying occurs and for up to an hour afterwards; in the May 6 case the spraying was from just after dawn until about 6:15 a.m.

It’s easy to create fear with words like “pesticides” and “spraying.” No one wants to or should be sprayed with a pesticide. But while this stuff might be icky, cause irritation and discomfort to some people, it is not poisonous and meets credible standards of safety when used properly. And just because the manufacturer advises it should not be spilled into waterways, that does not mean any water it comes in contact with — in any amount — is then contaminated.

With respect to those advocating for an alternate way to stop the establishment of spongy moth populations — and certainly people’s concerns should be heard by relevant authorities — this is a case where heeding the advice and long experience of those in the field is warranted.

A May 3 B.C. Environmental Appeal Board decision to dismiss an application for halting of spraying thoughtfully analyzes arguments for and against use of aerial spraying of Foray 48B. It can be found on the Canlii.org site by searching Communities United for Clean Air. It’s a welcome antidote to fear-based emotional responses that are so easy to find and spread online these days.

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