Text by Jean Pierre-Duford, agriculture spokesman 

Louis Robert, the agronomist fired by the Ministry of Agriculture on January 24 for denouncing the influence of the private pesticide sector on decisions made by the CÉROM (Centre de recherche sur les grains), which is financed for the most part by Quebec, has gone one step further. He is now denouncing the influence of the private sector in fertilizer recommendations made to agronomists and farmers.

The problem lies in the fact that fertilizer company representatives sit and vote on the committee that draws up recommendations for fertilizer use by farmers - a situation unheard of in North America.

And the consequences are dazzling: while Mr Robert was still working at MAPAQ, he studied the recommendations for corn. He was surprised to find that they were three times higher in Quebec than in Ontario. And yet, harvests are no larger in our province than elsewhere.

There are serious reasons for concern. Firstly, the surplus of fertilizer makes operations more costly, so market garden produce will be more expensive. It also inflates the bill for agricultural support, which is provided by the government at taxpayers' expense. Secondly, excess fertilizers find their way into waterways, causing changes in aquatic plant growth, sometimes killing off wildlife altogether, and some compounds may have an impact on climate change. Thirdly, these products end up in the drinking water consumed by the population.

The Green Party of Quebec supports substantial subsidies for the production and consumption of certified organic food, which means the use of only natural fertilizers. It supports Mr. Robert's denunciations and calls on the Legault government to free agricultural commissions from the fertilizer and pesticide lobby.








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