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More Concern Over Monsanto's Penchant for Chemical Spraying

by Craig Gilbert

Sure Catch Baits owner, Lisa Pilgrim, was in Toronto for a routine meeting with the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) just over a year ago as a member of a baitfish advisory committee. There had been many such meetings, but this time she brought a prop.

There has been community concern for years about chemical spraying of glophosate-containing herbicides. "They call it different names but it always has the same amount of glyphosate," says Gord Day of British Columbia. "They have no idea what the long-term consequences of these chemicals are. (ABC TV: file photo) "It was an MNR sign, a proper notice, that said ‘don't eat the blueberries,'" Pilgrim said.

The reason? The blueberries were in an area that had received herbicidal spray, applied from a helicopter, and were therefore potentially unsafe to consume.

"Why is it that in Toronto they don't spray anything, but up here they just do whatever they want?" she asked. "There are bicyclists, fishers, hunters, hikers, all kinds of people in the forest every day. You don't know when they are going to be over you.

"If you can't eat the blueberries, what is it doing to everything else?"

The Mid-North Monitor ran a story in last week's edition outlying the concerns of two area residents. A number of other area residents and one business owner have added their concern to the chorus decrying aerial herbicide spraying in the Massey and North Shore region. The MNR has issued notice that Domtar will be spraying a few kilometres north of Massey in three places August 20.

Sure Catch Baits, located in Walford Station, has been in business for about 13 years. Their work involves among other things, collecting minnows on a commercial scale from a number of sources around the Massey area. Pilgrim said ponds and other waterways near locations that have been sprayed are abnormally clear, and almost devoid of plant life.

"When we go in to some places, we notice a difference in the water's chemistry," Pilgrim said. "There usually aren't any reeds, even lily pads. We need those too, you know. The water is clear and of course, it kills the minnows."

Pilgrim said she was told by the MNR that the chemicals, applied by forestry companies to give pine and spruce trees a head start against competing (and commercially valueless) vegetation, are harmless.

"At that time it was called Vision," she said of the solution in question, produced by Monsanto and also distributed under the names Round-Up and Vantage. "If it rains after, where do you think it goes? If they pulled it off the shelves (Round-Up), why is Domtar still spraying these things in our backyard?"

Gord Day is an import from British Columbia. He moved to the area, bought some property and started enjoying the surroundings, hunting in the woods and fishing in the river about a year ago. Now he wonders if moving here to be near relatives was a mistake.

"They tell us it gets rid of the raspberries and the willows," he said. "Well we eat the raspberries, and the moose eat the willows, and we eat the moose. And they say they can spray on a dime - nothing from a helicopter sprays on a dime."

Day said it's another way to eliminate jobs and save money.

"They call it different names but it always has the same amount of glyphosate," Day said. "They have no idea what the long-term consequences of these chemicals are. If Gerry is any example of the short-term effects, they're doing this to us all.

"Sure they come and test after six months, but what about a year, two years, five years? I think the fewer people that know about this; the more they can get away with."

The Gerry in question is Gerry Voutour, owner of East Bull Lake Lodge. Voutour told the Mid-North Monitor last week he exhibits seven of the 10 health-related side effects associated with glophosate-containing herbicides, including an enlarged prostate, high toxin levels in his blood and two lens replacement surgeries.

John Podlatis lives off Birch Lake Road in Massey. He is convinced herbicide sprayed along hydro line routes in the area inevitably makes its way to a nearby freshwater spring.

"It's only a couple of hundred metres away and if it rains, it ends up in the spring," he said. "There are constantly people taking drinking water there. I've lived here almost my whole life, and they've been doing it for years. No one says anything about it."

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