Friday, 28 September 2012

The Organic Movement "Gets the Ear" of the Government of Manitoba

Minister declares week of Dec. 22-29 "Organic Week" in Manitoba.
 Chemical-free veggies, fresh from a MB garden. PLT photo

Manitoba's Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, Ron Kostyshyn, (l.) enjoyed a 4-course, gourmet organic meal with organic producers and retailers at an intimate Winnipeg restaurant last evening. Fusion Grill is long known for its support of fresh, local and organic food. 

Mr. Kostyshyn promised the guests his government would attempt to "raise the profile" of organic agriculture in the province.

He then signed a declaration, proclaiming Sept. 22-29th as "Organic Week in Manitoba." (The week just passed was National Organic Week.)

I was there, too, representing PLT and enjoying delicious dishes, ranging from roast heirloom squash to pumpkin crème brulee.

Please also read: "Manitoba Proclaims Organic Week," here.

After the feast,  I took the opportunity to "corner" the Minister to ask him how he felt about my article recently published in the Journal, Alternatives, exposing the "dark side" of Roundup, a pesticide widely used in agriculture. (I had sent him a link to the story three weeks ago, but hadn't heard back.) Below is a verbatim copy on the interview. 


PLT. Mr. Kostyshyn, I know the province is looking at banning the use of cosmetic pesticides on lawns and gardens and I think the Minister of Environmet seemed to sound like he might actually go for it (a ban). How big a leap is it to assume that some kind of ban or clampdown on agricultural pesticides might be in the works?

Minister. Well, obviously, Mr. Gord Macintosh is the Min. that's involved in the cosmetic ban at this point in time….

PLT.  But you are the Minister of Agriculture.

Minister. But I'm Minister of Agriculture, but the pesticide ban as far as lawn pesticides falls under his jurisdiction. 

PLT. I appreciate that. 

Minister.  So at this point in time, Mr. Macintosh and I have had some discussions but to speculate what's happening in future I think would be somewhat immature (sic) for me to make a comment at this time.

PLT.  Is it difficult for the province to have any control or does it have much control at all about the regulation of pesticides province-wide or is that pretty well a federal purvue?

Minister. Basically, we rely on the scientists with the fed. agencies that go through the necessary testing of the product that's being questioned.

PLT. I wonder if you'd do me a favour, I just had an article published in the Journal Alternative about Roundup. It points out and lists and documents a long and growing list of medical studies on the adverse effects of Roundup on crops, livestock, wildlife, on human beings, and yet this science seems to be getting lost somewhere out there. Would you do me a favour and read that article and get back to me on what you think of it…like, you must be aware of some of these studies?

Minister. Basically, I've heard some documentation. I have to be quite honest with you, Larry, I haven't investigated. But your request to bring forward that piece of documentation, if you would forward it to my office….my special assistant...

PLT. Actually, I did that, 3 wks ago in an email….I don't know if …you must have missed it but I did send it to you and several other people.

Minister.  I appreciate that. As you may remember, I was in Whitehorse, just got back..we were going thru "Growing Forward" and the hog industry…we were in the shortage feed….I'm not prioritizing..maybe the documentation is somewhere in the system but I haven't had the chance to read it.

PLT. if you could get back to me after reading and answer the questions in my email, that would be terrific.

Minister. I'll gladly get back to you.

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