REGINA - The federal government may allow a controversial farm
chemical back onto the market, but opinions are mixed about whether
the move is a good idea.
Ottawa's Pest Management Regulatory Agency earlier this month
held hearings into lindane, a neurotoxin linked to human diseases
such as breast cancer.
Federal regulators banned farmers from using the pesticide on
their canola seed in 1999, but the chemical's U.S. manufacturer,
Crompton Corporation, is urging Ottawa to reconsider.
Though lindane is meant to kill flea beetles, some scientists
say it kills more than that.
"We have seen a number of poisonings where cattle have actually
consumed treated grain and will obviously die from that,"
said Barry Blakley, a veterinary toxicologist at the University
"The animals that survive have the potential to have lindane
residues in their meat and in their milk."
The chemical is internationally recognized as a persistent organic
pollutant that does not break down easily in the environment and
builds up in the food chain.
However, some farmers say the chemical is cheap and not dangerous
when it's used properly.
"Cost is a big issue with growers," said Roy Button
of the Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission, "especially
in Saskatchewan where we had the frost from last year and probably
don't have the money to invest in crop production."
American regulators are also reviewing whether to allow the product
into their country. The final decisions could be months away.
Original URL: http://www.cbc.ca/story/science/national/2005/01/26/lindane050126.html