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The good news:  What ever happened to spray drift? We used to get frequent reports on prosecutions and civil suits relating to damage caused by spray drift onto trees, gardens, and fields. Now, such problems seem much less common. Why?

According to an industry insider, it is not because of any lack of enforcement.  (See, for example, the March 2012 conviction of Kenneth Schiestel, who was fined $20,000 for allowing spray drift onto the nearby individual, who developed a rash.) Modern spray nozzles have become much more accurate,  I am told, allowing farmers to control their pesticide sprayed much more accurately. Some pesticides have become less toxic. Farmers have become more tech savvy than they were in the early part of my career, and better educated about pesticide risks. And farmers, pesticide companies, and their insurers learned an expensive lesson from the fines and compensation awards that spray drift can trigger. If so, congratulations to them all.

Next, the bad news. We badly need an effective, low toxicity pesticide to control the epidemic of bed bugs. I’ve been told that such pesticides do exist, but that manufacturers are making no effort to have them made available for sale in Ontario. They say that it is simply not worth the time, money, and effort necessary to register and classify a pesticide here.

Maybe that’s why customs officers are seeing such a surge in pesticide imports by laypeople.

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