Persistent and toxic herbicide use schedule for our highways in NL. What do you think??


This post is for a friend who is very concerned about the proposed herbicide use scheduled for our highways here in the province. They are comparing it to Agent Orange. I have read a little into this and would like to head what other hunters are thinking about it. She will appreciate your feedback too I am sure.


What do you think about this? Do you believe that this is a huge threat to our natural food source here in the province? People are arguing that it is foolish to worry about it and that is a "non issue"  because they are only using an, albeit, poisonous substance with discretion to control the alders and therefore control the moose on the highways. And that the vehicle chemicals are more of a concern than a herbicide that humans are warned about coming into contact with. Do you agree?


What about the birds and animals that eat the berries and vegetation from the sprayed area? They travel back into the woods contaminated and then get hunted and brought home to our families. What about the water that seeps down into the ground or overflows  and runs into other bodies of water that weren't necessarily intended to be sprayed when there is a big rain fall . Will the fish be safe for consumption? What about the animals? Will there be any toxicity testing done to see if the animals are being exposed to this in high doses?


Does it blow around after it has been sprayed? Will the intended area for treatment be contained or is it able to travel a great distance? Can anyone answer these questions?


They advise humans not to walk through it or go near it, so how is one to get across the sprayed area to get to their trail to the cabin or to the pond they always fish in? What kind of exposure limits and absorption rates are there?


And as for the moose; distracted drivers and people driving too fast for the visibility conditions frequently hit moose. The distractions to a driver today far exceed the distractions that were there for a driver years ago. I understand there are some cases where this is not always the cause, but the rise in collisions can definitely be linked to this. That is my only comment on that. This matter is to discuss the possibility of a potentially lethal substance being sprayed around our roadways for a chemical substitute for cutting alders., Let's try to save a very heated moose collision debate for another time.


This issue definitely concerns me, and I would like to hear everyones opinion!. Do you think that this is an overreaction?


Also, It was only last year or the year before that they sprayed the road sides with the pesticide to prevent mosquito's from multiplying in the standing water on the sides of the roads. Does anyone know much about that? There were no announcements as far as I know, but the little signs are up all over the highways. If there was no announcement do you feel this was fair?

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The fall of Rome has in part been attributed to the lead lining the aqueducts that brought water into the cities there by slowly poisoning the people. Lead poisoning affects learning and may cause confusion. There are other symptoms. Of course they did not know this was happening. It would not be too much of a stretch to think that in small steps we are slowly poisoning ourselves as well and the use of these pesticides could be a part of it. And of course there are many other sources as well. My question would be that if it has be banned in every province and NL why is it suddenly approved. The water that runs in the ditches flows to our streams and into our drinking water sources. Chemicals in the landscape means it is every where. A hawk grabbing a mouse from the grass that has been sprayed will also ingest the chemical. Seems like a slap in the face of our intelligence when on one hand they say it is dangerous for people to use on their lawns but then say it is not a problem to spray massive amounts along our road sides.  Do the politicians think we are that stupid?  Yes they do. 

Spraying the road sides is not a once a year investment.  It will need to be done on a regular basis. 

I am glad somebody sees the problems with this! It is sad because they aren't even following their own protocol, they have sprayed right to the streams along the roadway down where I live. It is obvious by the brown trees that surround it. They said that there was supposed to be a buffer zone, but that hasn't been adhered to. Just google Tardon 101 MSDS and read up on the chemical. It causes severe reactions and it isn't as harmless as vitiman A and chlorine bleach like the minister tried to say.

Here is a copy of an email I sent to Lorraine Michael (NDP leader) and Dwight Ball (Liberal leader) on the issue. So far I've only received a reply from the NDP, who are actively trying to oppose the spraying program.


Dear Mr. Ball and Ms. Michael,

I’ve recently become aware of what I and others believe to be a dubious and irresponsible project undertaken by the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial government involving the spraying of the potentially harmful defoliant herbicide Tordon 101 (Picloram) in the clear cut areas along the sides of the highways in this province. (As you may already be aware, Tordon 101 is also known as “Agent White”, cousin to the infamous Agent Orange used in Vietnam by the United States military.)

I can’t help but feel that this decision was extremely ill-considered. Despite the unconvincing assurances of both Minister Hedderson and the contractor responsible for the spraying that Agent White is perfectly safe to use, almost every bit of literature I can find on the subject indicates that research on the long-term effects of this chemical on human populations is sparse, and the EPA Consumer Fact Sheet on Picloram (highlights of which can be found here: indicates the short-term effects of the chemical as “weight loss” and “damage to the nervous system”, with the long-term effect of “liver damage”. Picloram is known to contain hexachlorobenzene (HCB), which is a carcinogen. In 1985 Dow Chemical (its manufacturer) was forced to re-formulate Picloram, reducing (but not totally eliminating) this contaminant. This chemical has been banned for residential use, and Minister Hedderson’s assertions that this was merely to prevent overuse for unnecessary reasons is unconvincing at best. Agent White is being sprayed along both sides of the highways in the clear cut areas, as well as in the median (based on what I saw while driving out the highway yesterday in the area of Butterpot Park). How does this not constitute overuse?

Given that Picloram is the most persistent of its family of defoliant herbicides, and that its molecular nature prevents it from adhering to soil, it’s all but guaranteed to make its way into the water table very quickly. Did the government think to ask what would happen once this occurred? What happens to the fish in the ponds and streams, and the animals that feed on them (including humans)? What happens when this chemical makes its way into the drinking water supply? What happens to the animals who feed on the plants sprayed with this chemical? What happens to the waterfowl who land and feed in ponds contaminated by this chemical? Will berry pickers in these areas (many elderly berry pickers tend not to stray too far from the roadside) still be able to eat what they pick? There are quite a few important questions the provincial government should have answered to the affected public’s satisfaction before proceeding with this spraying program. To the best of my knowledge, this was not done. Instead, the government seems to have charged ahead with this desperately poor decision as a result of running scared from a class-action lawsuit launched against them by an emotion-driven saber-rattling special interest group which seeks to vilify and demonize moose in the eyes of the public, portraying them as some sort of evil enemy “out to get us” in cases of moose-vehicle accidents. (The reality is that moose are just animals, and the onus is on the drivers on our highways and roads to slow down and pay attention while driving. That’s the REAL issue – rampant speeding and driver inattention, but that’s a separate issue and I digress.)

The government seems to have reacted to the misplaced anger of this special interest group by making this breathtakingly irresponsible decision. I certainly applaud them for the decision to cut back the foliage along the side of the highway and other roads in the province – that was clearly the right thing to do – but did they really have to follow it up with this? It’s inexcusable, and the possibility that it might have damaging effects to both the long-term health of Newfoundlanders and the ecosystem of this beautiful province is infuriating.

Now my question to both of you: what is the Loyal Opposition doing to oppose this? This hasn’t gotten nearly the media attention it deserves, and many people are still in the dark about it. Please understand that I have been a lifelong supporter of the Conservative Party in this province, and the fact that I am reaching out to both of you regarding this issue should give you some indication of the sheer gravity I feel this situation possesses.

Here are a couple of informational resources:

Thank you, and best regards,

Christopher Paddock

PS: I’d appreciate it if my name were not made public.


Here's the reply I got:


Dear Mr. Paddock,

Mr. Murphy has been following this situation closely and has spoken out against Agent White. Here is a news release that was sent out today but it also includes a link to a petition that you can print off to sign and also get more signatures. This can be sent back to our office and will be presented in the House of Assembly.


Thank you for contacting us with your concerns and opinion and we will continue to work towards getting this ban.


Laura Coultas

Personal Assistant to Lorraine Michael, MHA  


 For immediate release

August 31, 2012


Murphy fighting ‘do as I say not as I do’ pesticide policy


Today the NDP Environment and Conservation Critic George Murhpy (MHA, St. John’s East) launched a new petition aiming to ban the use of Tordon 101 for clearing brush on our roadways.


“Government is being very hypocritical on this issue,” said Murphy. “They ban residents and businesses from using particular chemicals but they continue to use them for their own brush clearing operations on our roads and highways.”


The chemical Tordon 101 contains the banned substance 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), also known as ‘agent white’. It also contains a known cancer causing carcinogen called Picloram.


Murphy stated that there has been, and continues to be, a lot of criticism of government on this issue; individuals, municipalities and other organizations are fighting this government practice.


“I am starting this petition to bring those voices to the House of Assembly,” said Murphy. “It is my hope that government will realize the error of its ways and stop using these dangerous chemicals. The health of our environment and residents is far more important than saving a few bucks on brush clearing.”




The petition can be viewed and downloaded on the Caucus website:


For information contact Ron Woodman, ph. 729-0324 (o) or 728-6095 (c).


Christopher that is excellent!


I feel pretty let down that they we ahead and done this without really advising the public. With grouse hunting starting soon and rabbit a month later I can't help but wonder if what we will be hunting is safe to eat. They could have spent time in the sprayed areas foraging and now I am going to bring it home to eat? I eat wild game to avoid eating chemicals where possible, not to end up eating a more lethal one! It's a sad world when the meat you buy at the store is safer to eat than the meat we hunt.

True enough. My suggestion to everyone reading this is to print off a copy of the petition and get as many signatures as you can.

Finally got a response from Liberal leader Dwight Ball:


Hi Chris,


First off thank you for taking the time to write and express your concerns to me directly. I too have very serious concerns and vehemently oppose Governments spray program and we have clearly articulated our position in both the media and a press release dated August 8, 2012. I have attached it for your review as well.  What I find particularly bothersome is the fact Government made a conscious decision to keep the spray program quiet; they neglected to inform the residents of the province that the program was on-going which is troublesome in light of the potential hazards to our food and water supply.


Randy Edmunds, the critic for Environment & Conversation along with the entire Liberal caucus has been vocal and will continue to raise the issue whenever the opportunity arises.  Government’s decision to take this approach in managing vegetation is clearly wrong and is not socially responsible. I support other vegetation management approaches such as the use of excavation etc.


I hope this helps clarify the Official Opposition’s position on the provinces spray program. Please feel free to contact my office with any other concerns you may have related to this issue.





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