Pesticide spraying has been controversial in Canada for several decades. One of the more contentious applications of pesticides has been the forest sector’s use of aerial spraying to control insects considered “pests.” In New Brunswick, for example, a province with a long history of intensive commercial forestry, the Department of Natural Resources announced in early June 2011 that 10,000 hectares of Crown forests near Sussex, New Brunswick, would be sprayed aerially with Abietiv to manage a balsam fir sawfly outbreak.
Minister of Natural Resources Bruce Northrup was careful to explain to the media that the insecticide was based on a naturally occurring virus that was
“effective against the sawfly but research has shown it does not affect humans, other animals, birds, bees, other insects, fish or aquatic organisms, or plants.” Northrup’s cautious explanation has its historical roots in the growth of opposition to New Brunswick’s spruce budworm spraying program in the 1950s and 1960s. An analysis of those events can be found in an article by Mark J. McLaughlin in the most recent issue of Acadiensis, entitledGreen Shoots: Aerial Insecticide Spraying and the Growth of Environmental Consciousness in New Brunswick, 1952-1973. Bruce Northrup would have been well aware of the historical sensitivities when he made the Abietiv announcement.