September 24, 2012
On Monday morning, a group  plans to assemble in New York City’s Times Square to protest Monsanto, one of the largest suppliers of herbicides in the world. New York City might seem like an unlikely place to rail against a company that deals mostly with agriculture. But the protesters don’t have to look much farther than the surrounding streets and parks for their connection to the company.
According to the Department of Health’s report on city pesticide use in 2011, Roundup, the weed-killing key to Monsanto’s agribusiness empire, is the city’s most heavily used liquid herbicide. Roundup is Monsanto’s signature blend of glyphosate—a compound that works by disrupting an enzyme key to plant growth—and other ingredients to destroy weeds.
Monsanto’s Roundup brand alone was applied by the city nearly 500 times last year—about a dozen bathtubs’ worth in undiluted form, according to DOH’s annual pesticide figures—mostly via the Roundup Ultra formulation, a more concentrated version of the original. The Parks Department, responsible for most of the city’s Roundup use, declined to answer my request for a description of where it uses Roundup and how much, though did confirm its use in iconic locations like Central, Prospect, and Riverside parks. Roundup applications are done “at various locations throughout the city system under careful supervision and in very limited quantities,” was the extent of Parks’ disclosure on the subject.