From change.org report
It's everywhere, taking over like the weeds it's meant to kill. Now glyphosate, the bestselling weedbuster of all time, has become a pest.
"Everybody in this room has glyphosate and other components in Roundup in their body," said Dave Schubert, a researcher at Salk Institute who spoke in favor of a ban last week that supervisors have proposed for the unincorporated county.
Around the country, tens of thousands of lawsuits target glyphosate-based herbicides which homeowners, groundskeepers and others say caused their cancer. Heavy use of the chemical in agriculture has promoted superweeds, and is suspected of harming pollinators like honeybees.
Non-Toxic San Diego and other groups have pushed for an end to its use in the city. That, combined with the lawsuits and three big wins by California plaintiffs, led supervisors Nathan Fletcher and Diane Jacob to propose a ban for the county and a search for safer alternatives.
"I'm all for killing weeds, but I think we should do it in a responsible way," said supervisor Fletcher.
The county already prioritizes the least toxic means to kill weeds, known as Integrated Pest Management, but the new policy prohibits the use of glyphosate-based products and puts organic options at the top of the list.
Staff will return in 120 days with a revised policy for adoption that applies to all county-owned and maintained property, as well as county-leased properties.
The county departments that use glyphosate include Agriculture, Weights & Measurements, Parks and Recreation, General Services and Public Works. It's sprayed on parks, playgrounds, sport fields, and other green spaces.
John Botter, with the group Cleaner for Kids, said he requested pesticide use records for county lands for 2019, "and what I found is that almost 1700 gallons of glyphosate was used on managed county lands," mostly by.Agriculture, Weights & Measurements. "We all drive by and live by and walk by these farms and fields."
Others questioned estimates of how much glyphosate is really being used in the county, based on their work in San Diego. "We suspect the numbers listed are underestimated," said Gina Feletar, a citizen volunteer with Xerces Society who works on butterfly conservation.
Pesticide reports the group pulled showed that in a single district, 293 gallons of Roundup was sprayed at Liberty Station over three days last March, and Robb Field was treated with 623 gallons for two weeks last January.
Supporters say glyphosate is popular because it works so well, and is cost-effective. Bayer bought Monsanto in 2018, laying claim to its blockbuster product Roundup, but glyphosate is sold under other trade names, too.
The compound was classified as a probable human carcinogen in 2015 by the World Health Organization, which prompted California to require a Prop 65 warning label.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers glyphosate safe for human use, though most studies have been conducted by the manufacturer. To address gaps in studies, UC San Diego scientists launched the Herbicide Awareness and Research Project.
Since June, all ten campuses in the University of California system have temporarily halted the use of glyphosate. In December, Lemon Grove restricted weed-killing chemicals in city parks. Encinitas banned glyphosate from parks in 2015, and two years later, Carlsbad began a transition to organic maintenance, leaving open the option to return to "tried and true" methods.
The city of San Diego is now testing a pilot project to go organic at three parks: Liberty Station NTC Park at 2455 Cushing Road, the Nobel Athletic area and library on Judicial Drive, and Azalea Community Park on Violet Avenue in City Heights.
Supervisor Gaspar said that when she was mayor of Encinitas, they pioneered the idea as a small pilot project in Glen Park. "The fiscal impacts were minimal," she said, an extra $3,000-$4,000 a year to replace those products in the parks.
Advocates urged the county to allow only organic options in its policy, and not replace one toxic pesticide with another. Three school districts have bans on glyphosate products, but there are other hazardous chemicals in use. Bob Johnson, with Non Toxic Neighborhoods, said their first goal for both parks and schools is getting rid of glyphosate. Then, a move to organic landscaping.
Jacob said she hopes in the future they can look at other pesticides being used, the harmful effects of those, "but that's for another day."
"What are the organic alternatives?" asked supervisor Jim Desmond, saying people need to be told the options. "I've used Roundup and it works great. I don't know if there's anything else on the market. So maybe when staff comes back, let us know if there's an alternative that works."
There is, Jacob said, mentioning one time-tested tool.
"It's called a weed-eater."