Ethan A. Huff
February 14, 2014
Spring is just around the corner, which for millions of Americans will mean bursting forth from hibernation into the lush green spaces of their local public parks and recreational areas. But if your town or city is anything like New York City, playing ball or doing yoga on those crisp blades of enticing grass at the first sign of warmth could also mean inadvertently exposing yourself to unknown levels of the world’s most popular and controversial herbicide, Roundup.
Manufactured by Monsanto, Roundup is routinely doused on public parks throughout New York City, sometimes hundreds of times throughout the year, while few are aware of what is taking place. Mother Jones‘ Anna Lenzer reported a couple of years ago that, in 2011 alone, those who manage the Big Apple’s parks applied Roundup some 500 times throughout the year, the equivalent of about 12 bathtubs full of undiluted chemicals.
Based on a Department of Health report posted on the city’s website, and after several inquiries to city officials, Lenzer was able to determine that Central, Prospect and Riverside Parks — each of these is an iconic New York City park — all receive Roundup treatments throughout the year. Many other parks throughout the city, though not specifically disclosed, are also likely included in the sprayings.
“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,” wrote Lenzer. “Monsanto’s Roundup brand alone was applied by the city nearly 500 times last year… mostly via the Roundup Ultra formulation, a more concentrated version of the original.”
If your city applies Roundup to local parks, urge it to stop
Though city officials reportedly admitted to Roundup’s use in New York City parks, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which is said to govern the use of the toxic product, told reporters that Roundup is not used. When pressed on the disparity, DEP failed to provide any answers.
Meanwhile, other cities, including Chicago and Boulder, have voluntarily chosen to stop using Roundup at their parks. Chicago reportedly phased out Roundup completely back in 2008 and maintains that roughly 90 percent of its parks are now completely free of pesticides. The city of Boulder, in Colorado, followed suit by scrapping Roundup a few years later.
But there are still many cities across the country using Roundup, which is likely due to corporate and political pressures that have failed to keep up with the science. From the onset of resistant “superweeds” to the release of groundbreaking evidence like Earth Open Source‘s”GMO Myths and Truths Report,” all the latest evidence points to Roundup as a major safety concern, both environmentally and in regard to human health.
“Roundup is used so much that scientists around the world are reporting with alarm the extent to which glyphosate is turning up in the food, water, and even the air around us,” adds Lenzer. “A German study this year, for example, even found glyphosate in all of the urine samples it took from nonagricultural workers in Berlin, at levels 5-20 times the limit for drinking water.”
Roundup is obviously something that most people informed about its dangers would probably choose to avoid. But doing so is difficult when the chemical cocktail is hiding beneath your toes and picnic blanket as a result of city sprayings, which more often than not take place undisclosed. If you are unsure of whether or not Roundup is used at your local park, ask the Parks and Recreation department. And if they admit to using the herbicide, tell them to stop, directing them to the plethora of evidence showing its dangers.
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This article was posted: Friday, February 14, 2014 at 6:43 am