People passionate about nature

Protecting Nature by Banning Cosmetic Pesticides

Many Manitobans cultivate biodiversity and protect nature in their yards and gardens by growing native plants and providing food, habitat and water to birds and insects. But since 2022, neighbourhood naturescapes have been threatened by the use of cosmetic pesticides on household lawns. Pesticides are biologically active chemicals that are intended to suppress or kill living things, often used as a method of weed control. However, non-target organisms may be harmed by exposure to pesticides.


Living Prairie Museum by Anne Lindsey


Pollinators, which play a critical role in plant reproduction, are vulnerable to adverse health and behavioural impacts caused by pesticides. Food sources for foraging bees and other pollinators are reduced through pesticide use, and pollinators ingest residue pesticides when gathering nectar from plants that have been treated. In the case of bees, they then carry this contaminated food back to the hive where others are exposed.  A study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology in 2015 found that exposure to low concentrations of glyphosate interfered with bees’ ability to navigate back to their hives.


Pollinator-friendly Flowers by Randall McQuaker

Cosmetic pesticides also contaminate rivers, lakes, streams and groundwater. A number of pesticides are highly toxic in water, where they harm fish and aquatic insects. Birds Canada reports that pesticides and contaminants are one of the five main threats to birds in Canada. Although contamination of terrestrial and aquatic habitats is often from agriculture, forestry, industry and transport, the run off from urban pesticides on lawns, parks and golf courses is also a significant source.


Painted Lady Butterfly on Sunchoke by Anne Lindsey

In Canada, there have been four systematic analyses of peer-reviewed studies on human health and pesticides, including by the Ontario College of Family Physicians in 2012 and by the Prince Edward Island Chief Public Health Office in 2015, focused primarily on epidemiological studies. This body of research shows that children are at particular risk from exposure to pesticides because they are at a vulnerable stage of growth and development.  According to this research, dangers to children may include deficits in cognitive and motor development, learning and developmental disabilities, and childhood cancers, while harmful effects to adults may include increased risk for Parkinson's disease, lung disease, diabetes and some cancers.


Laura Secord School Parkette by Randall McQuaker

Health concerns raised in research studies support bans and restrictions on pesticide usage. Where studies are lacking on particular exposures and health outcomes, physicians and health groups generally favour a precautionary approach to pesticide use and regulation to avoid potential harms. Six provinces have varying restrictions on cosmetic pesticides used on lawns: Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. Meanwhile in British Columbia, more than half of the population is covered by municipal pesticide restrictions.

In 2014, the Manitoba government banned non-essential uses of cosmetic pesticides on all lawns with enactment of the Environment Amendment Act (Reducing Pesticide Exposure). The 2014 law was based on evidence that many common lawn care products pose risks to human, animal and environmental health. The law was supported by a number of local and national health and environmental organizations, including Nature Manitoba. Polls conducted in both 2016 and 2022 by Probe Research Inc. and Prairie Research Associates found that the majority of Manitobans supported the provincial ban on cosmetic pesticides.

Despite the evidence and support for the cosmetic pesticide ban, prohibition of the use of pesticides on lawns was repealed by the Manitoba government in 2022 under the Environment Amendment Act (Pesticide Restrictions). Cosmetic pesticides are now prohibited on only specific types of greenspaces: municipal playgrounds, dog parks and picnic areas, and provincial parks. Cosmetic pesticides can be applied to commercial, institutional and residential lawns, as well as most municipal land. The 2022 legislative changes also repealed regulations on the sale of cosmetic pesticides in Manitoba.


Wild Columbine and Day Lilies by Anne Lindsey

Greenspaces, including lawns and gardens, thrive without the use of chemical pesticides. Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba provides suggestions on healthy practices for controlling weeds and nurturing healthy turf. Naturescape Manitoba, Nature Manitoba's definitive guide to landscaping for nature, also provides alternate remedies for controlling invasive plants and insects. As the book states, these alternatives are important as “pesticides upset the natural balance among species, and may introduce long-lasting poisons into the ecosystem.”


Red and White Impatiens by Randall McQuaker

Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba is asking Manitoba's new government to reinstate the cosmetic pesticide ban. You can support this campaign by sending a letter to the Environment Minister to express your support to have the legislation reinstated as soon as possible. Visit this site for a sample letter and email address.

Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba is a coalition that brings together a number of individuals, health groups and environmental organizations in Manitoba. The coalition was established in 2013 to press for provincial legislation restricting the sale and use of cosmetic pesticides. For more information, visit

 Prepared by Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba.