Page 47 - On the Trail of Elizabeth May
ISSUE : Issue 53
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1990/1/1
local priest in Inverness, and Ian Sherman and a group of people there, put together a peti? tion from Cape Breton Landowners Against the Spray. The petition called for public hearings on the spraying. But there weren't any fact sheets associated with it; it was just, "We want to know what's going on." So I found out that it was fenitrothion that they planned to spray. And as luck would have it, not only did I have Rachel Carson's write- up on what fenitrothion was and what it might do--there was also a whole chapter in Silent Spring about how budworm spraying in New Brun? swick had never worked. It was one of her classic examples of how budworm spraying just perpetuates the epidemic, and kills off the " predators and destroys the environment, and isn't able to control the outbreak. And that chapter in her book was called "Rivers of Death," and it was about the death of the sal? mon in the Miramichi, with the early years of the New Brunswick spray program. And then I had a couple of publications on pes? ticides from the Scientists' Institute for Pub? lic Information. So that was really how I got more involved in budworm, was that I had more information than the Baddeck Public Library on insecticides. So I wrote up a fact sheet refer? encing all the different sources I had. And then you'll remember--that was a very dra? matic couple of months. Because then Parker Donham broke the story about Reyes' Syndrome. And Dr. Crocker's research on the spray program was cancelled. It all happened fast. Because Allan Sullivan (then Nova Scotia Minister of Public Health), who was such a wonderful, won? derful person, and a terrible loss to the prov? ince- -he died so young. But he really deserves tremendous credit for having stopped that first year's spray program in '76. And then every year after that it was a fight --well, the next year the pulp company fought really hard. And so of course, we had to do that much more than we'd done before. Well, you know the rest of the whole story--most people do. (A lot of the world doesn't know the story. Is that your first book...?) Yeah. Budworm Battles covers from 1976 to 1981. Which I figure was a good time to write a book, because by that point the budworm popu? lation had collapsed from natural causes, which we'd said it would. And we had had heavy DON'S FLOWERS Serving Port Hood, Judique, Inverness and Surrounding Areas p. O. Box 179, Port Hawkesbury, N. 3. BOE 2V0 Telephone 625-2215 or 625-2717 mortality in the spruce-fir forest. But I thought it was also important to document that we never argued that we wouldn't have heavy mortality. We just used the pulp company's figures. We used their statistics for what they figured would die, and what they would be able to do with what wood remained. And they had exaggerated so. They'd tried to say that they'd have to close the mill within 5 years if we didn't spray. (And did we spray?) We never sprayed. Never sprayed in Cape Breton. Except in later years we used some BT, which was a naturally- occurring bacteria. We never had a chemical insecticide spray program. (As a result, real? ly....) Of all of the public pressure from Cape Bretoners. We had such a fantastic public groundswell. I mean, you didn't go anywhere that people weren't working against the spray' program. They threatened that the mill at the Strait would be closed by 1981 or '82, if we didn't spray the whole island from the air with chemical insecticides. And then when we had the bead on fenitrothion and we knew a lot about it, they said, "Oh, no, we're not going to use that. We're going to use carboryl. We're going to use this wonderful chemical Se- vin." And then we had to find out about that. And it turned out that it was suspected of causing birth defects, and it was under review in the United States. It's under review again in Canada now. It's still used agriculturally. And it's largely responsible for incredible mortality among an endangered species on the prairie of the burrowing owl. And of course, there still is a health risk to farmers who are using too much of these chemicals. They still show up in epidemiological studies as TRAVEL AGENCY 288 Welton Street SYDNEY 562-3100 Based in Sydney -' Gordon Roynows Serving All of Cape Breton Lifetime Cape Breton resident Gord Reynolds and his staff ioolt forward to helping you with all your business and vacation travel needs. We are a member of a nationwide chain of full-service travel agencies. And our gervipe? gre free! Contact us first to plan group travel-such as 'genealogical tours, sport and school travel? er any individual need. OUR WINTER HOURS ARE: Mon. to Sat. 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. * Fri. evening till 9 P.M. OR BY APPOINTMENT serving travellers since 1955
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