New Brunswick’s acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Jennifer Russell has concluded that there is no need to stop glyphosate forest spraying at this time in NB. After review of the Glyphosate report released by the Chief Medical Officer of New Brunswick on July 26, 2016, Stop Spraying New Brunswick group calls for an immediate moratorium on forest spraying and the start of human and wildlife health studies.
“What I saw was a report that acknowledged that the use of Glyphosate is contentious,” says Peter Gilbert, co-organizer of Stop Spraying New Brunswick. ”Some say it’s okay and some say it’s not. There are provinces, states, countries and scientific authorities on both sides of this debate. That in itself is enough reason to press pause on the use of this controversial herbicide.“
“The extent of forest spraying in this province and the dramatic drop in the deer population are two compelling reasons to launch a major health study immediately in NB including humans and large forest animals”, says Dr. Caroline Lubbe-D’Arcy, co-organizer of stop Spraying New Brunswick.
New Brunswick is seeing an increase in forest spraying as a result of the 2014 Forest Management Strategy, which allows for more Crown forest clearcuts than before with resulting plantations that are managed by herbicide spraying. 40% of cut forest was sprayed in 2014, a much higher percentage than any other province in Canada.
“Canadian Environmental Protection Law recognizes that the protection of the environment is essential to the well-being of Canadians,” says Francine Levesque from Écovie, Kedgwick River. “It includes a precautionary principle that says that "lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation" and "The application of this principle is a legitimate and distinct decision-making approach within risk management". This principle should be used in NB at this moment with glyphosate since we have the second-highest cancer rate In Canada (Statistics 2015).”
Clearly something is wrong as we are witnessing with large mammals (other than humans) living in our forests. One only has to look at the significant drop and change in distribution of New Brunswick’s deer population. Our deer population is now a quarter of what it was 30 years ago (New Brunswick’s deer population has plummeted from 270,000 to 74,000 over the past 3 decades). Data comparing New Brunswick, Maine and Québec show that the deer harvest numbers in New Brunswick have decreased to 15% of 1985 LEVELS, whereas numbers are up 300% in Québec and have remained stable in Maine. Québec has had a ban on forest spraying since 2001.
It should be noted that it has been reported that deer will not eat sprayed vegetation and that they will migrate to find food in unsprayed areas, but their supply of food is diminishing due to increased clearcuts and herbicide spraying. Moose however, will eat sprayed vegetation so the health of these large mammals should be studied. If there is no risk this needs to be proven and not assumed. A study would help answer several important questions since a large percentage of our population hunts moose and fishes for food. Is their meat and organ tissue tested for the presence of this chemical?
“New Brunswick’s wildlife such as deer and moose are our canaries in the coal mine with respect to forest spraying," says Dr. Caroline Lubbe-D'Arcy. “Stop Spraying New Brunswick (SSNB) is asking for an immediate health study to be launched on humans and large mammals in New Brunswick as well as an immediate moratorium or outright ban on forest spraying. Our acting CMO should be applying the precautionary principle and not use the New Brunswick rural population as guinea pigs."