And now… listen to this!

Jay Norrie is one of my favourite people. I worked with Jay in 1997 when he launched Prestige Lawn Care, a full service lawn program. I like Jay.

One of the things I learned from Jay is that not everybody and his uncle can spray pesticides; it takes specific, certified skills and the knowledge that goes with it.

And so, this week, I want to turn the “pesticide issue” introduced last Sunday over to Jay and Ross Miles who also wrote to take issue with my one-sided presentation last week.

“Ouch!” That’s Jay’s reaction to last week’s column. “You wrote with no consideration for the arguments presented by the pesticide industry. Eliminating pesticide use for cosmetic purposes is based solely on emotion, not facts,” says Jay, who’s fatigued from debating the pesticide issue all summer.

Jay said his entire industry is changing, and of course, his own organic lawn care program is growing as a result. “Pesticides are just one tool in my toolbox for lawn care, “ says Jay who points out that pesticides also eliminate noxious weeks which cause many people severe allergy problems to say nothing of the dangers from biting insects–bees, mosquitos, fleas.

“When you’re shopping for groceries and you reach for that nice, red, juicy tomato, you have to realize that it got that way because the agricultural industry uses 90% of the chemicals sprayed each year,” points out Jay. “In fact,” retail sale of pesticides to untrained home users creates most of the misuse and danger to our environment. I see this first hand as people call me to control their grub problem after numberous attempts with store bought products.”

Jay is realistic about the toxicity of pesticides, but suggests we look at many of our household items which get dumped down our drains regularly… bleach, drain cleaner, soaps, paint solvents, . He points out that pesticides contain compounds which bind the product to the thatch layer, reducing the possibility of run-off.

And Ross Miles issues a number of questions to people like me who suggest that pesticides be eliminated for cosmetic use. He suggests that I don’t know the difference between electromagnetic and subatomic particles (the latter being atomizing), and he’s right. He says that reading an email from a computer screen poses a greater risk than a microwave over, so I should have a second look. Cell phones, too.

Ross has useful scientific equations that support the use of pressure treated wood, and says that Walkerton was about “bad chemistry in water treatment, couples with too many cows defecating too close to a misplaced well, to unqualified people.” He says it was not about chemicals. He’s right about that. But Walkerton was a wake-up call for all of us in that we’ve always assumed our water would be eternally safe.

Ross also points out in detail the names of garden variety plants that contain “cides” and warns that plans alone can harm human beings and animals.

“I’m not advocating unbridled use. Every broad leaf week in my grass gets dug out and dies in the compost. I’ve never sprayed or dusted with an insecticide as the birds to a real good job. I grow garlic in with my roses to keep the aphids away and I pick black spot by hand off the bush.

“But on occasion, a little chemical help is used here and there, just aas is done to keep swimming pool water safe,” Ross points out. And he’s right about that, too!

“The city should not have any say on the administration of a golf course. If you don’t like how they grow their grass, don’t use the place. Government can regulate business and the sale of certain things like DDT, Chlordane, which is protection within itself, but stay out of my bedroom and my yard,” he concludes.

It’s sure an issue that’s got many sides and looking at them all is a journalistic responsibility.

Thanks, Jay. Thanks, Ross.