Glyphosate should have been banned by the City of Sonoma years ago. What is taking so long?
SONOMA INDEX-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER | December 13, 2018, 5:56PM
Weedkillers containing glyphosate, a substance that may be linked to cancer, could be banned in city-maintained areas if the City Council sets the process in motion at its upcoming meeting Monday.
The city in 2001 and 2014 already sharply limited the use of glyphosate, a systemic herbicide known more commonly under the brand name Roundup, to kill weeds. Workers only used six gallons in 2017, according to Colleen Ferguson, the city’s public works director.
Ferguson is recommending that the city extend the restriction to all city parks but stop short of a total ban. Presently, there are few places city workers can use glyphosate-based herbicides; for example, the weedkillers aren’t used in the Plaza.
“The Public Works Department and city contractors use products containing glyphosate as a last resort to control weeds on city property,” Ferguson said in her staff report. If it’s used in currently approved areas such as city parks, landscape areas and bike paths, signs are posted with information such as the material applied, with a contact phone number.
Glyphosate was designated “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a unit of the World Health Organization, in 2015.
It’s worth noting that this designation means the evidence that it causes human cancer is “limited” and that explanations including “chance, bias or confounding (meaning an unrelated factor) could not be ruled out,” but that some evidence also exists from animal experiments.
In a conflicting study, glyphosate was “not statistically significantly associated with cancer at any site,” according to a November 2017 analysis based on the Agricultural Health Study, a federally financed cohort study that has monitored 57,000 pesticide users in Iowa and North Carolina since the 1990s.
It’s also worth noting that more than 76,000 pounds of the herbicide in its various forms were applied to wine grapes in 2016 in Sonoma County, according to the state Department of Pesticide Regulation.
“I’m just surprised that it (growth) hasn’t been stronger and faster,” [said] Chris Benziger…
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