Good farm­ing

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - HEALTH - This ar­ti­cle was from the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries. For com­ments and sug­ges­tions, email wemack­in­non@gov.pe.ca.

The monthly Farm net col­umn looks at Is­land farm­ers who know the im­por­tance of re­spon­si­ble pes­ti­cide use.

Don God­frey and his son, Michael, know a lot about farm­ing and good stew­ard­ship prac­tices. The fam­ily farm grows 1,400 acres of crops which are spread through­out their prop­er­ties in Cornwall and Meadow Bank. They grow seed and ta­ble pota­toes, grain, soy­beans, hay and silage. They also have a cow­calf herd and a small feed lot, pri­mar­ily of Sim­men­tal cat­tle.

The God­freys, like all farm­ers on P.E.I., have to pro­tect their crops from in­sects, weeds, fun­gus and a va­ri­ety of other pests such as slugs and ro­dents that can cause sig­nif­i­cant dam­age. Pes­ti­cides are used by both or­ganic and con­ven­tional farm­ers to com­bat these pests. Or­ganic farm­ers use or­ganic-ap­proved pes­ti­cides that are de­rived from a nat­u­ral source. Con­ven­tional farm­ers use nat­u­ral-based pes­ti­cides as well as syn­thetic pes­ti­cides.

The tox­i­c­ity of or­ganic and con­ven­tional pes­ti­cides is very sim­i­lar and both un­dergo the same rig­or­ous test­ing be­fore be­ing ap­proved for use on food crops. All pes­ti­cides are reg­u­lated by Health Canada’s Pest Man­age­ment Reg­u­la­tory Agency (PMRA.)

On av­er­age it takes 10 years and $250 mil­lion to take a pes­ti­cide from idea to mar­ket. Pes­ti­cides are one of the most strin­gently reg­u­lated prod­ucts in Canada. Farm­ers like Don and Michael, as well as the public, rely on this process to help them pro­duce safe food at an eco­nom­i­cal price.

The PMRA man­dates that over 200 tests are com­pleted be­fore prod­ucts are reg­is­tered. These tests are de­signed to en­sure that the fi­nal prod­ucts will not pose health or en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns. Once a prod­uct is reg­is­tered it is reeval­u­ated by PMRA at least ev­ery 15 years.

Be­fore Prince Ed­ward Is­land farm­ers can use any pes­ti­cides they are re­quired pass an exam in or­der to be­come cer­ti­fied to pur­chase and use pes­ti­cides. They learn about pest man­age­ment tech­niques, pre­vent­ing pest re­sis­tance, how to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment and avoid health risks. They also learn about proper stor­age prac­tices, main­te­nance of ap­pli­ca­tion equip­ment and the im­por­tance of record-keep­ing. To keep cur­rent, they must be re-cer­ti­fied ev­ery five years. In ad­di­tion, there are a num­ber of laws that farm­ers must fol­low in or­der to ap­ply pes­ti­cides.

Don and Michael God­frey are typ­i­cal Prince Ed­ward Is­land fam­ily farm­ers who use mod­ern meth­ods to pro­duce high qual­ity food that is con­sumed here and abroad. Farm­ers care for the land and are true en­vi­ron­men­tal stew­ards.

For in­for­ma­tion about pes­ti­cide use and reg­u­la­tion in Price Ed­ward Is­land , go to www.gov. pe.ca/en­vi­ron­ment/

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