The Pesticides Behind Health Canada’s Type II Recall of Organigram Products

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powdery midlew

Product recalls are a reality in almost every industry sector. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), 200 to 300 food recall incidents occurred yearly in Canada between 2006 to 2013. While recalls are an unfortunate event, they do show that measures are in place to ensure consumer safety. The recent recall of dried marijuana and cannabis oil products from Organigram raises concern regarding how unregulated pesticides were found in products from an organically-certified producer, and more importantly, what kind of risks do these pesticides pose to human health?

The pesticides that were found in the Organigram recall were myclobutanil and bifenazate. In brief, these pesticides are low toxicity and are not likely to affect human health when ingested orally. However, the main point of contention around cannabis is the lack of information purporting to the risks of combustion and inhalation of these compounds. It is for this reason that they are not one of the 13 approved pesticides for use on medical cannabis in Canada.

Here is a breakdown of these pesticides:

Myclobutanil

  • Myclobutanil is the active ingredient in several pesticides, including Eagle 20EW and Nova40W
  • Fungicide commonly used on apples and grapes
  • Low acute toxicity when ingested orally
  • Not approved for use in tobacco and marijuana plants
  • Human health effects from the combustion and inhalation of myclobutanil have not been evaluated

Bifenazate

  • Bifenazate is the active ingredient in Floramite
  • Miticide used on fruiting vegetables such as peppers and tomatoes in Canada
  • EPA reports inhalation toxicity – Category IV (practically non-toxic)
  • Used in unregulated marijuana markets
  • Not registered for use on cannabis
  • Human health effects from the combustion and inhalation of bifenazate have not been evaluated

The glaring concern is the lack of information regarding the effects of combustion and inhalation of these compounds. Tolerance levels will vary significantly depending on the route of administration. When a substance is ingested orally, it is metabolized by gut enzymes and filtered through the liver prior to entering the bloodstream. Inhalation, however, is a more direct route of entry into the bloodstream.

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