A Chemical Reaction, the story of Hudson, Ontario's battle to ban garden pesticides – a battle that's now spread across most of Canada – debuted in D.C. Friday night, part of our DC Environmental Film Festival, and your intrepid blogger was there. I'd seen it once and knew it would be a crowd-pleaser, especially for a crowd filled with activists, it turns out. (That's what these festivals do.)
Some notes on a second viewing:
- How toxic 2,4,D really is to pets.
- How Paul Tukey was turned into an activist by his own reaction to pesticides as a lawn-care contractor, and by feeling responsible for his son's ADHD because of his extreme exposures.
- Forty one states have passed "preemptive" laws that prevent towns and cities from banning pesticides – or actually taking any action that's more restrictive (more progressive) than the state's laws on the matter. That says a lot about the lobbying power of the chemical industry.
Here's what's so great about these festival screenings, with filmmakers talking to the crowd afterward – conversations happen, and sometimes even action.
In this case Paul brought to the stage an assortment of folks to help him answer questions and enlarge the discussion. Pictured from the right are:
- Diana Post, president of the Rachel Carson Council.
- Jay Feldman of Beyond Pesticides
- Robert Goo of the EPA. He's working on recommendations for lawn care across all U.S.-government properties – BIG potential impact.
- (Not pictured) Yours truly, introduced as a blogger. (Yep, three experts and a blogger.) I stood on the far right, except when I was running around taking photographs and notes. A blogger's gotta blog.
Notes from the Q&A
- Two of the nine states without a preemptive law – Vermont and New Hampshire – are duking it out to be the first to ban garden pesticides.
- Tukey thinks that corn gluten is oversold as a preventer of weeds but there's an herbicide now licensed as "Ortho EcoSense" that does a better job.
- Natural or organic lawn care costs more in the first year but after that, costs less than synthetic, resource-intensive care.
- Peer pressure is turning against the use of toxic, polluting products on our lawns, with weeds becoming a sign that the homeowner is doing the right thing.
- We learned about "School Gardens Across America" and their Facebook group. Also heard that the National Gardening Association told them to cease and desist (because their name is similar to the name of NGA's own campaign) so there's a potential guest rant here about the story.
- We learned about Safe Lawns for DC Kids and Critters, another cause with a Facebook page.
After the Q&A there was a heated meet-and-greet, with furious exchanging of business cards, so I predict there WILL be follow-up. I bet Paul has some stories of local actions that been sparked by screenings – because "A Chemical Reaction" really IS an awesome tool for change. So if you want to get things going near you, just buy the DVD and arrange a screening.