I was born and raised in North Delta and South Delta ( Ladner and Tsawwassen) is historically known for important farming and fishing communities. During our class on Friday, I was interested in learning more about the environmental impacts of pesticides and the certain environmental policies that exist in BC in regards to farming.
I found an amazing resource developed by BC’s Ministry of Agriculture which focuses on environmental protection and pesticides. The diagram above is very helpful as it summarizes the processes that affect what happens to pesticides in the environment. The transfer of pesticides is facilitated by volatilization, leaching, absorption and crop removal. I don’t have a strong understanding of pesticides and this resource includes a lot of helpful material including pesticide transfer processes, pesticide characteristics, different breakdown processes and ways to minimize the impact of pesticides.
Since I’m curious to learn about pesticide use in BC, I came across a report focusing on a survey conducted in 2017 by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. This report is really informative and interesting, so check it out! The top two pesticides used in BC were listed as 1) Bromadiolone and 2) Permethrin. Bromadiolone is a rodenticide that kills rats and mice and is highly toxic to most mammals and birds. Permethrin, however, is an insecticide and does not pose high risks to wildlife. Both pesticides are known to stay in the environment for a while.
In soil, half-life is 15 days
In water, half is 392 days
In soil, half-life is 40 days
In water column, half-life is 19-27 hours
Please note these statistics are estimates I found online! As we can see, Bromadiolone has a very long half-life in water, while Permethrin has a long half-life in soil. Perhaps there are trace amounts of such pesticides by the time we purchase produce and bring it home for consumption. However, we need to consider how serious the effects of pesticides are on wildlife and the environment. For example, although Bromadiolone is a rodenticide, other animals can accidentally ingest it. Bromadiolone is able to easily cross the blood-brain barrier and cause CNS toxicity in animals.
Based on this information, I envision a BC where the use of strong pesticides like Bromadiolone and Permethrin is not encouraged by the government to local farmers. Instead of providing incentives for pesticide use, I hope to see more education, collaboration and communication with local farmers and farming communities being prioritized. With the biological information and effects of pesticides being so accessible, a possible intervention could be within the support and resources that farmers in BC are given. Perhaps staff working in the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change can update their programs and resources. For instance, farmers across BC can be encouraged to adopt regenerative farming methods that restore biodiversity and incentives to pursue this type of farming can be distributed by the provincial government!
This was very informative Shanzeh! It really showed the personal real life effect of policies on our food.
What is interesting is that UBC has a good agriculture department. I took a course on agricultural strategies with absolutely no background in agriculture and farming and came out with a wealth of information. Perhaps the government can encourage and subsidize agricultural learning to those who need it as agricultural methods are constantly being updated.
Thank you for sharing your research Shanzeh. I was amused to learn about the chemicals that are used in the soils very close to me. With your resources coming from the Ministry of Agriculture, I do think the Ministry should have the responsibility in regulating the pesticide in our soils, and the promote the use of agricultural methods that are more regenerative, and doesn't require the use of these chemical pesticide. Local farmers are not to blame, they are just doing their jobs. As you said, the government should shift focus from sponsoring chemical pesticides, to subsidizing sustainable/ regenerative agriculture.