Government steps to halt algae blooms don't come soon enough

Press release - February 14, 2008
Environment Minister, John Baird announced today he will limit phosphates to 0.5% starting in 2010. Canada will finally close a 40 year old legal loophole that allows environmentally damaging phosphates in household cleaning detergents. The limit is a good step towards cleaning up Canada's lakes and rivers, but Greenpeace demands why the minister is delaying implementation for another two years. "Canada's waterways can not take another season like last year where hundreds of lakes became no-go zones, where toxic blue-green algae blooms killed off fish and wildlife populations. It would be better to impose the ban immediately, than wait until 2010," said Josh Brandon, agriculture campaigner with Greenpeace.

The government claims that they have heavily restricted the use of phosphates.  Actually, it is their response that is heavily restricted.  They could do a lot more to limit phosphate emissions in industry and in agriculture. The largest amounts of phosphate pollution come from industrial agricultural fertilizers, as well as from the acid rain caused by fossil fuel use.

The announcement follows a similar ban announced by the Quebec government last year.  The Quebec government responded to public pressure after that province became the epicentre of a blue green algae crisis that affected hundreds of lakes.  This shows that action by the provinces can be successful in leading environmental initiatives.

"Provinces often claim impotence about environmental problems in agriculture like phosphates or genetically engineered organisms, because they say that these federal responsibilities.  We hope that provincial leaders like Jean Charest and Gordon Campbell will take courage from this announcement and follow it up with regulations mandating labels on genetically engineered foods in their provinces." said Brandon.

For more information:

Josh Brandon,

Greenpeace Agriculture Campaigner

(604) 721-7493