Annapolis County to involve stakeholders in objective look at Glyphosate

ANNAPOLIS ROYAL, NS -- Annapolis County will form an ad-hoc committee to study the herbicide Glyphosate with a mandate to bring back a report to municipal council within a year.

Councillor Michael Gunn delivered a report to council Oct. 20 after he and councillors Bruce Prout and Gregory Heming had been tasked with looking into the issue of the defoliant's use within the county. They recommended that a formal committee be set up to study Glyphosate.

"We believe that various stakeholders should be consulted over a period of time to collect information required to make our recommendations before the June COTW," Gunn said in his report. "Meetings could be held via zoom as each party presents information in a question-answer session. "
He said the primary focus would be on the goal of healthy land, water, and soil for the county.
Among stakeholders Gunn said should be consulted were Clean Annapolis River Project, Ecology Action Center, Stop Spraying New Brunswick, Stop Spraying and Clear Cutting Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture, NS Department of Environment, NS Department of Health, and the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute.

The municipality had looked at the Glyphosate issue earlier in the year in regards to aerial spraying of recently clearcut lands in Annapolis County, and had requested of the province a ban of spraying in the county.
"Council, I think, was quite disappointed by the boilerplate responses that we received from both the Department of Lands and Forestry and and the Department of the Environment over the use of Glyphosate in our forestry industry in Annapolis County," said Warden Timothy Habinski in an interview. "We had certainly hoped for a more meaningful response from both those departments. We'd hoped to actually engage them in dialogue, and instead what we received were essentially form letters."
He said this prompted council to take a closer look at all uses of Glyphosate.
"And to that end council decided to form an ad-hoc committee which will consult with industry experts, consult with representatives from the provincial government, consult with both organic farmers and conventional farmers to take a really objective look at all uses of Glyphosate and its implications for human health and the environment here in Annapolis County," Habinski said.

"Any herbicide used in Canada must be registered through Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency," said Julie Towers, deputy minister of Lands and Forestry in an Oct. 9 letter to council. "This federal agency determines whether a product is safe for use. In 2017, this agency re-affirmed its position that glyphosate does not present risks of concern to human health or the environment when used according to the revised label directions."
The response from provincial Environment Minister Gordon Wilson Oct. 5 was almost identical, using some of the same wording.
"Careful research and meaningful dialogue is necessary to resolve this sort of question," said Habinski, "so we're going to do our due diligence and engage in some very careful research, and we hope that at the end of that process that we will be able to engage the province in a meaningful discussion over the health of the residents of Annapolis County and the health of environment in Annapolis County and the implications that the use of Glyphosate has for both."

Although Gunn's working group recommendations had suggested a report be delivered to council's June, 2021 committee of the whole meeting, council agreed to give the committee until July to get the work done. The ad-hoc committee will also include a municipal staff member in a resource capacity.