October 27, 1995
WWF Calls for Great Lakes Region Pesticide Reduction
Approximately 57 million pounds of pesticides are used
annually in North America's Great Lakes basin, more than half
of which -- more than 30 million pounds -- are considered
probable or possible human carcinogens by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to a World
Wildlife Fund (WWF) report presented at the biennial meeting
of the International Joint Commission on the Great Lakes,
September 22-24, 1995.
The report, "Reducing Reliance on Pesticides in Great Lakes
Basin Agriculture," provides an overview of agricultural
pesticide reduction in the basin, and calls for comprehensive
efforts by local, state, provincial, federal and private
institutions to minimize reliance on pesticides. According to
the report, just three herbicides -- alachlor, atrazine and
metolachlor -- compose almost one third the total volume of
pesticides used in the basin. The U.S. EPA classifies
alachlor as a probable human carcinogen, and atrazine and
metolachlor as possible human carcinogens. Atrazine has also
been identified as a possible endocrine disrupter. By
mimicking natural hormones, endocrine disrupting chemicals
can interfere with sexual development and reproductive health
in humans and animals.
At a workshop on pesticide reduction attended by the six
Canadian and U.S. members of the International Joint
Commission (IJC), as well as by more than 75 activists,
government officials, and industry representatives, WWF-U.S.
representative Michelle Miller presented a summary of the
report and recommended policies for pesticide use reduction
at local, national and international levels.
The WWF report outlines a variety of strategies for reducing
reliance on pesticides, including quantifying targets for
pesticide reduction, reorienting research and technical
assistance, developing and promoting farmer-to-farmer
communication through demonstration programs and improving
accountability by involving stakeholders from outside the
farm community in monitoring progress. The report also
recommends specific pesticide use reduction policies to
particular Canadian and U.S. federal agencies, such as
amending the Canadian pesticide registration process to
create an Alternatives Office, which would advance non-
chemical alternatives; linking agricultural and other support
programs to pesticide use reduction plans in the U.S. Farm
Bill; and developing a labeling system for both Canada and
the U.S. to recognize reduced reliance on pesticides.
WWF cautions that despite the promise of pesticide reduction,
enormous quantities of hazardous pesticides are still used in
the Great Lakes basin. The WWF report points out that of the
150 pesticide active ingredients applied, 53 are suspected of
causing cancer and 23 are possible endocrine disrupters.
Fourteen of these 150 active ingredients have been detected
in Great Lakes' groundwater to date.
The IJC will publish a response to the presentations made at
its September meeting in the International Joint Commission
biennial report, to be released in early 1996. According to
Michelle Miller, the IJC draft work plans indicate that
pesticide reduction initiatives will be given priority in the
next two years. The Commission was established by the
Canada/U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1978 to
monitor progress toward restoring and protecting the Great
Sources: WWF press release, October 12, 1995; Reducing
Reliance on Pesticides in Great Lakes Basin Agriculture
executive summary, WWF, September 1995.
Contacts: To order Executive Summary or to be included in
mailing list for final WWF report, contact Debra Moyer, WWF-
US, 1250 24th Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20037; phone (202)
778-9690; email email@example.com; for information
about WWF's work in Great Lakes Basin, contact Michelle
Miller, WWF-U.S., 1233 Jennifer Street #1, Madison, WI
53703;, phone (608) 255-1900, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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