Pesticides and the Prairies

April 21, 2005 :: Clinton L. Evans
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Few people in the world know as much about weeds, pesticides and the prairies as Dr. Clinton Evans. In his book: “The War on Weeds”, he raises some questions about the capacity of man to successfully control or eradicate ‘pesky’ plants. Their capacity to mutate and evolve – even to extreme chemicals – is staggering. Perhaps not unlike anti-biotic resistant bacteria…

The War on Weeds, is described as a ground breaking book, a one-of-a-kind, insofar as it spans four centuries of weed history. Evans focuses on the evolution of the relationship between man and weed in the formative years of Western Canada. Settlers brought over seeds from Europe and tried to claim the land. But the problem of weeds was an on-going issue. They proved to be a formidable rival!

It wasn’t until the creation of 2,4-D, followed by a “truly bewildering array of herbicides in the 1950’s and ’60’s” that has exploded again into an arsenal of weed killing chemicals, that it looked like man had the upper hand. The latest invention of genetically modified crops, such as herbicide-resistant wheat, is another heroic human attempt to be victorious over weeds. But Dr. Evans wonders if humans are more likely to destroy themselves (through environmental damage) long before the weeds raise their white flag of surrender…

Speaker Biography: Clinton L. Evans, Ph.D from UBC in History, is a self-employed historical consultant, traces his interest in weeds back twenty years to his days as an agriculture student. He worked in the weed control industry, explored for minerals in northern British Columbia, and taught at Okanagan University College in Kelowna. He makes his home with his wife, children, and weed-infested lawn in Vernon, B.C.

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