Friday, 1 September 2006

LETTER TO THE EDITOR - Fall 2006

Dear Editor,

It was a day in late July. A spray plane swooped low, dumping its payload of Lorsban onto a canola field in the Swan Valley, to control an infestation of Bertha army worms.
Nearby, the owner of a small acreage and her son were outside doing chores.
The woman says her son got a dose of what she calls the “direct drift.” According to the woman, both became “instantly nauseous with burning eyes.” Her husband developed the same symptoms, even ‘though he didn’t arrive home ‘till about 20 minutes after the incident.
They’re all are okay now, but she says she suffered from a low-grade headache for about three weeks afterward. (And she doesn’t normally get headaches.)

She even noticed one of her miniature horses became unusually listless right after the incident.
She says they now wonder whether they should even keep grazing the animals on the grass that has also been sprayed.

No one can seem to help them with advice.

The woman claims agricultural authorities were warning farmers before crops were in the ground not to plant canola, because the army worms would be severe this year. Much of that advice seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

The woman says when she turned to the local agricultural office for advice after her exposure, they “Didn’t do dick.” On the contrary, she was even met with hostility there!
And therein lies the saddest part of the tale; the arrogance of the powers-that-be that Big Agriculture can do no wrong. A virtual flood of complaints like this, albeit circumstantial, get shunted off as if they were coming from cranks or people who have nothing better to do.
Even reputable medical authorities who say there’s increasing evidence of serious, long-term effects from such chemical exposure are ignored.

So, are the people whose stories I have tried to document in these letters all cranks?
If they are, there must be a lot of them. The Aviation Control Centre in Winnipeg has apparently received more than 600 complaints this year about spray planes violating or ignoring regulations on buffer zones that are supposed to control where they spray and where they do not.

Is it now finally time to do something? You be the judge.

Larry Powell
Roblin MB