Pesticides, also called crop protection products, are one of the most effective tools available to farmers to keep insects, weeds, and diseases from damaging and destroying fruits, vegetables, and field crops. They also let farmers grow more food on less land, which helps preserve natural forests, wetlands, and other wildlife habitats, while ensuring we all have enough to eat.
Canadian farmers have to follow strict rules, and are only allowed to buy and use products that the government has found to be safe for people and the environment. That’s the responsibility of the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), a part of Health Canada, and products are only approved for use after years of review and testing have proven that they’re both safe and effective. In some provinces, farmers must be tested and certified before using these products.
Quick fact: It can take more than 10 years to develop, test, and bring a pesticide product to market.
Farmers follow best practices when working with pesticides to make sure that the products are used safely. For example, they make sure they’re not applying them on windy days, so that the spray doesn’t “drift” away from weeds onto areas where it isn’t supposed to be. Wearing personal protective equipment is another best practice to ensure worker safety.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is the most widely used weed control product in agriculture. It’s one of many tools farmers use to control weeds in crops like canola, soybeans, and corn, or before planting other crops. To prevent weeds from becoming resistant to the product, and therefore uncontrollable, farmers will rotate pesticides or active ingredients (that’s the main ingredient in a pesticide that actually controls the weeds).
After reviewing more than 1,300 studies, Health Canada has found that, when used according to the label directions, Roundup will not cause cancer or pose other risks to people or the environment.