New Brunswick postpones pesticide use hearings

Deadline extended for written submissions

(Dave Bedard photo)

The New Brunswick government’s planned public hearings on the use of glyphosate and other pesticides are postponed, and more time is being granted for the public to file written briefs.

The provincial legislature’s all-party standing committee on climate change and environmental stewardship on Feb. 5 announced it would hold hearings in Fredericton March 24-27 “on the use of pesticides and herbicides, including glyphosate, in the province.”

However, the province announced Tuesday those hearings are postponed indefinitely, adding that people and organizations previously booked to make presentations to the committee will be advised when new dates are set.

Those who are unable to make presentations and/or prefer to submit written briefs can now submit those via email by April 3, extended from the previous deadline of Friday (March 20).

The committee said Tuesday it decided “unanimously” to postpone the hearings. It didn’t state a specific reason, but postponements and cancellations of public meetings scheduled over the next few weeks across Canada are largely a given.

While the committee has described the hearings as focused on the use of pesticides and herbicides in the province, its announcements call out glyphosate for specific attention.

The committee, in its announcements, describes glyphosate as “used for a wide variety of purposes in forestry and agriculture, and for weed control in industrial, commercial and domestic settings.”

First brought to market under the brand name Roundup in 1974, the broad-spectrum herbicide has come under increased scrutiny — and litigation — since the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015 moved to classify the chemical as “probably carcinogenic.”

The committee, in announcing its hearings, has said that “while certain studies have indicated that glyphosate may not pose a cancer risk to humans at current exposure rates, many New Brunswickers remain concerned about its use.”

“We want to be transparent about progress on environmental issues that matter to the public,” Riverview MLA Bruce Fitch, the committee’s chair, said in its Feb. 5 release.

The committee is tasked with “examining the province’s progress towards the objectives outlined in New Brunswick’s Climate Change Action Plan by calling upon specific departments, agencies and key stakeholders to provide updates.”

The action plan doesn’t specifically mention glyphosate or other pesticides. It does refer to the possibility of revising the province’s Environmental Farm Plan (EFP) system, but with an eye on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the province’s ag sector.

However, the committee has also said it aims to “gather information on climate change, environmental stewardship and other related issues from stakeholders and subject-matter experts and prepare reports with recommendations to the legislative assembly.” — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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