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Moves to regulate pesticides welcomed

Pesticide application in a Bermuda field (File photograph)

Steps to regulate the importation and use of pesticides were welcomed as “long overdue” by the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Task Force

The move, announced this month by Kim Wilson, the health minister, would consolidate oversight under one ministry for greater health and environmental protection.

Kim Smith, the executive director of BEST, said the group approved of sharper regulation for products containing glyphosate.

The herbicide chemical is an ingredient in the weed killer Roundup, which is among products to get closer scrutiny.

Ms Smith said BEST hoped to see “a precautionary approach taken to any/all products imported and used in Bermuda”.

Roundup’s widespread use in Bermuda, including by the Government to keep weeds in check by roadsides, has long proved controversial, with the product repeatedly implicated as a potential carcinogen.

BEST organised a protest against its use in 2018.

At a press conference last week, public works minister Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch said there had been “unintended consequences” after the Government bowed to complaints against the use of Roundup.

“The Ministry of Public Works used to import Roundup, which is now said to be causing cancer and other things, and we were banned from bringing it in for the last five years,” Colonel Burch said.

The chemical had been sprayed along the sides of roads – but its absence has led to a proliferation of weeds.

Ms Smith cited BEST’s creation of a pressure group, The Buzz, which campaigned for the banning of glyphosate herbicide, which has been blamed for the mass deaths of bees.

The group, begun in 2013, raised a “fundamental concern” over “few formal controls in place in respect of pesticide use in Bermuda”.

Ms Smith said the group was no longer in operation.

But she added: “When we were working together, the group made contact with Dr Elaine Ingham, a soil biologist out of the US, who has proven that one does not need to use pesticides or even chemical fertiliser products on plants provided there are sources of healthy compost that can be used to rebalance the soil when it is tested and found to be out of balance for the plants to take care of themselves.”

The new regulations, outlined in the 2022 Throne Speech, cover the entire range of pesticide chemicals in use in Bermuda.

Ms Wilson signalled that the tighter controls would be brought by the Government during this session of the House of Assembly.

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Published November 23, 2022 at 7:52 am (Updated November 23, 2022 at 7:52 am)

Moves to regulate pesticides welcomed

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