The Township of North Dundas, as well as the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry (SDG) began spraying roadsides with pesticides to control noxious weeds on May 10. Both the Township and the United Counties are using the same pesticides on their respective roadways, and both are using Green Stream Lawn and Vegetation Management Inc. The pesticide used is ClearView Herbicide, with the active ingredients Aminopyralid, present as potassium salt, and Metsulfuron-methyl (Reg #29752), and Gateway Adjuvant, with the active ingredients Paraffinic Oil, Llkoxylated alcohol non-ionic surfactants emulsifable concentrate. (Reg #31470) The Gateway Adjuvant is used to increase the effectiveness of the herbicide.
According to the Township and SDG, the noxious weeds targeted for spraying are: wild parsnip (often known as poison parsnip), Canada Thistle, ragweed, and wild chervil. There are 25 plants currently classified as noxious weeds as outlined in the Weed Control Act. By definition, a plant is designated as a noxious weed if it is: difficult to manage on agricultural land; reduces the yield and quality of a crop; or, negatively affects the health and well-being of livestock or agricultural workers.
According to Dow AgroScience, ClearView Herbicide is a “selective herbicide for post-emergent control of annual and perennial broadleaf weeds, invasive plants and shrubs on rangeland, permanent pasture, rights-of-way, industrial and other non-crop areas of Canada.”
ClearView kills a great deal more than what is being targeted. It kills many species required or favoured by pollinators, including milkweed (the only plant that can sustain Monarch Butterflies), red clover, wild rose, wild sage, brown-eyed Susans, native thistles, buttercups, chamomile, tansy, lambs quarters, dandelion, mallow, hawks beard, ox-eye daisy, sweet white violet, wild colombine, yellow foxtail, evening primrose, knapweed, shepherds purse, bottle gentian, bloodroot, wild strawberry, chicory, hawk weed, buckwheat, toadflax, wild oats, wild carraway, wild willow, cinquefoil, New England Aster, Canada anemone, and wild sarsaparilla. Spraying kills everything but grass. It kills every plant that the pollinators need. This opens up the area for extremely invasive grasses like phragmites. Biodiversity is essential to survival. ClearView leaves roadsides with no plants such as goldenrod or asters, both plants that can compete with wild parsnip. Native trees and shrubs are damaged or killed. Roots of trees, cedars, and fruit-bearing trees and shrubs are sprayed and die or are damaged. Without all these plants killed by spraying, there are no birds, bees, or butterflies. There are also no insects that feed birds or bats.
Aminopyralid, the active ingredient in ClearView is in the picolinic acid family of herbicides. This family includes clopyralid (banned in several US states, and known for its ability to persist in dead plants and compost and has accumulated to phytotoxic levels in finished compost), picloram (extremely toxic to trees when applied in their root zone), and triclopyr (highly toxic to fish, aquatic plants, and aquatic invertebrates, and toxic to birds).
Aminopyralid is particularly concerning to growers of vegetables because manure can contain long-lasting residue of the herbicide, allowing it to enter the foodchain.
Aminopyralid affects beans, tomatoes, lettuce, and potatoes, causing deformed plants and little to no yield. Aminopyralid contaminated compost or manure has contaminated gardens in the US, the UK, and Canada. This contamination of home and market gardens through compost, hay mulch, and manure is all-too common. ClearView has a minimum 60 month impact on legumes such as clovers and alfalfa. Legumes are “nitrogen fixers,” and are essential to healthy soil. Legumes are food sources for pollinators.
The Gateway Adjuvant is toxic to aquatic organisms, According to Corteva agriscience, the makers of Gateway Adjuvant, it “contains aromatic petroleum distillates which are toxic to aquatic organisms.” Corteva’s warning says,” Do not contaminate any body of water by direct application, cleaning of equipment or disposal of waste. Do not apply directly to water or wetlands. Do not apply when weather conditions favour drift or run-off from areas treated.” In addition to the active ingredients, both ClearView and the Gateway Adjuvant contain non-active, or inert ingredients. ClearView contains 45% inert ingredients. These ingredients do not need to be labelled, and inert does not mean non-toxic. Any of these inert ingredients may be toxic.
The rapid decline of pollinators results in the loss of food sources, namely all the plants targeted by Aminopyralid and ClearView. At this moment, organizations such as the David Suzuki Foundation have launched efforts to increase the number of pollinators through programs such as the Butterflyway Ambassadors, which challenges individuals, businesses, and the townships, to plant pollinator gardens and Butterflyways of native wildflowers, yet we are spraying Aminopyralid and ClearView directly onto the very plants that sustain the pollinators. One in three bites of food are dependent on pollinators. In Canada, $2 billion in crops are dependent on insect pollination. Globally that number jumps to $217 billion.