Even though the Health Canada website indicates that the class four bio-pesticide, Tree Azin, still did not pass the full array of studies normally required for pesticide registration, cities across the country continue to use it to manage the ash trees that are threatened by the ash borer insect.
“None of us are chemists,” Beaconsfield Councillor Roger Moss said at an open house in Beaconsfield regarding their plan for their more than 9,000 last year. “We cannot tell the difference between what a good product is and what isn’t so we have to have faith that the governing bodies are doing their homework.”
According to Moss, there is a need to be cautious but now it is up to the pesticide to be disproved. Moss feels the company Bio Forest, who owns the monopoly for the product, has done their homework. Bio Forest has recently indicated that for the product to be effective it will need to be doubled up in coming years.
“Health Canada says it has not been tested completely but the problem with that is that Health Canada has approved it with that caveat,” Moss said. “They gave their ok with a caveat that indicates it has not been tested to the levels that other pesticides have.”
According to Jason Gasparetto, technical specialist at BioForest, unlike chemical insecticides, it works on the insect’s hormonal system, not on the digestive or nervous system and does not lead to development of resistance in future generations. TreeAzin is a systemic insecticide, therefore is not sprayed like some insecticides but injected directly into the sapwood. The pesticide is non-discriminatory, meaning it will eradicate all insects in the trees not just the emerald ash borer.
“The product was put through the ringer before being graded a class four which is the least harmful of the pesticides,” he continued,” but that is like saying you as a human are least harmful because you have never been charged with a crime, they are all horrible and this is the least horrible.”
Beaconsfield Councillor Karen Messier, Chair of the City’s environment committee said that for her the choice to use the bio-pesticide on ash trees every two years for the life of the tree and more was a trade off and the city will be following other cities on this issue.
“There is a lot to consider when making the choice to use pesticides at any time,” Messier explained. “We have seen the photos of towns that have lost their ash trees, it is devastating to the town at large and to the property values of homes. Beaconsfield is known for the trees.”
The Montreal Real Estate Board requires home owners who are selling their home to fill out a declaration which will force the seller to alert the buyer of the number of ash trees on their property.
“Based on the average tree, the cost to treat is $200 every two years for the life of the tree or $2,000 to take it down and replant,” Moss confirmed.
On May 24, during their monthly public council meeting council voted to adjust the strict bylaw against applicaiton of pesticides Beaconsfield has become famous for to include the application of Treeazin.
Health Canada indicates that there is a concern with users coming into direct contact with TreeAzin Systemic Insecticide on the skin or through inhalation. Therefore anyone mixing, loading and/or applying TreeAzin Systemic Insecticide must wear a long sleeved shirt and long pants, or coveralls over short sleeves and short pants, chemical-resistant gloves and goggles or a face shield during handling, loading, and application of product.