We are watching the entire United States, but particularly the border states of New York, Connecticut, Maine, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Washington, for any activity relative to banning pesticides.
[Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment, 2005 (pesticide/fertilizer lobbying group)]
What are the final pieces in America’s multi-billion dollar “grass” trade industry?
Weed control ordinances started appearing in the mid-1940s, and over the next fifty plus years they arose in practically every metropolitan area of the U.S. Within a remarkable uniformity of acceptable appearance, there were also numerous differences. It was generally agreed that grass had to be kept short, but short could mean no more than 10 inches in some towns, 12 inches in others, 14 in some, and so forth.
Everyone agreed that “weeds” were bad, but what constituted a weed could vary considerably from one town to the next. Once you got beyond crabgrass, dandelions, and one or two other all-purpose villains, the weed menace got murky.
Penalties varied as well, from only a slap on the wrist to hefty fines for violations. The stated reasons for enacting these laws were numerous. For some communities weed control laws “protected” the public from neglectful homeowners. Sometimes it was because tall grass and weeds were considered a fire hazard or an attraction to rats and mosquitoes. In some cases weed control laws were enacted because weeds supposedly produced pollen and therefore caused suffering among people with allergies.
Once in a while the ordinance was thought important because it helped prevent the growth and camouflage of, er, possibly an illegal substance? The lawn and garden industry, in general, was more than happy to encourage and promote all the half-truths and outright fairy tales that have blanketed America, pretty much to the present.
It is not uncommon today in many communities across America, perhaps on a spring Saturday in June, to find the noise levels approaching mid-town Manhattan at rush hour. SUV-sized lawnmowers lumber across the grass, while the sound from the house next door might be the whirl of the omnipresent weed whacker, or better still, the screech of the leaf blower. Down the street someone with furrowed brow is clutching the gasoline or electric powered hedge clippers.
Finally, at the corner house, the lawn company truck pulls up. This time it’s the chemical folks about to put down the “needed” spring fertilizer, the June herbicide, or maybe the quarterly fungicide. Next time it might be the lawnmower guy with his gargantuan machine. He’ll race across the lawn, give a quick once over with the “whacker,” and then hop back in his truck. Time is money. Turn on your lawn sprinkler and relax.
The devil—as we’ve often heard—is in the details. The details, as we’re learning more and more, could be long lasting and quite unpleasant. But that’s the next, and final, story.
The pesticide and fertilizer lobby in the United States may have to become even more vigilant.
The Supreme Court of Canada recently upheld a Toronto pesticide ban, which permits Canadian cities to stop the use of “controversial” lawn chemicals. Croplife Canada, a trade association that includes pesticide producers, had been fighting the Toronto law for two years. Is it only a matter of time before these “dangerous” ideas seep across America’s northern border and destroy our way of life? Thank goodness for Homeland Security and the Patriot Act.