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Alta. to ban residential “weed and feed” use

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The Alberta government says farm chemicals won’t be affected in its plan to ban the sale of combination herbicide-fertilizer products for home and garden use.

Environment Minister Rob Renner announced Nov. 13 that herbicide-fertilizer combinations, commonly known as “weed-and-feed” products, will no longer be sold starting Jan. 1, 2010.

The decision “will not impact the agriculture sector or the landscaping industry since these products are almost exclusively used on homeowners’ lawns,” the province said in a release. And products intended for spot application to weeds will still be available for sale and home use, the province added.

2,4-D, a Group 4 herbicide used in such weed-and-feed products, is “highly mobile” and commonly appears in water downstream of municipalities, the province said, when excess chemical runs off lawns into drainage systems and is deposited into creeks and rivers.

“More than 10 times the required amount of pesticide can be applied to lawns when weed-and-feed is used,” the province said.

The province acknowledged pesticide regulation is usually the job of Health Canada, through its Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). Also, the average amount of the herbicide 2,4-D in surface water downstream of Alberta municipalities is below the recommended federal threshold, the province said.

But by banning weed-and-feeds, the province will have taken a “proactive stance to eliminate opportunities for additional unwanted substances to enter our waterways.”

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