Several New York City council members are calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to halt the use of the toxic pesticide Roundup and other glyphosate and surfactant-based products in city parks and public properties.
The request for a moratorium on the use of the chemicals comes as the council is considering legislation supported by Friends of Animals — Intro 1524-2019 – that would restrict harmful pesticides from being used on properties owned or leased by the city. In addition, no pesticides would be used within 75 feet of any body of water.
Pesticides, which are nonselective, are harmful to wildlife, pollinators and humans and FoA is cheering these efforts in NYC to restrict their use.
“The spraying of these products, done with the expressed goal of killing weeds, is raising serious alarm amongst residents and city workers who may be unknowingly exposing themselves and their families to harmful chemicals,’’ said the letter addressed to de Blasio requesting the moratorium that was signed by eight council members.
In June 2020, Bayer, which acquired Roundup manufacturer Monsanto in 2018, paid $10 billion in cancer claims to settle lawsuits. The settlement came after losses in previous court cases, including a case in San Francisco in which a jury awarded $289 million in damages to groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson who is suffering from terminal cancer. In March 2019, Sonoma County landowner Edwin Hardeman, who is one of 11,200 product users who have filed lawsuits against Monsanto, was awarded $80.3 million after alleging that the herbicide caused non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and that the company buried evidence rather than warning consumers of the plausible health impacts.
Most health studies had previously focused on the safety glyphosate, which is Roundup’s active ingredient, rather than the combination of ingredients found in the product, according to an article in Scientific American. But in more recent studies, scientists have found that Roundup’s inert ingredients amplified the toxic effect on human cells—even at concentrations much more diluted than those used on farms and lawns.
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate in 2015 as a “probably carcinogenic to humans” and concluded that the chemical likely causes a range of cancers, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, renal cancers, skin cancers and pancreatic cancer, the letter noted.
The letter to Mayor de Blasio was sent by Council members Ben Kallos and Carlina Rivera, who introduced the pesticide ban legislation, as well as Mark Levine, Francisco Moya, Laurie Cumbo, Diana Ayala, Daniel Dromm and Robert Cornegy, Jr.
Roundup was sprayed 1,365 times in 2013 and is the city’s most heavily used pesticide, according to a health department report Kallos previously cited when first introducing legislation last year.
If the legislation is signed into law, NYC would join more than two dozen communities that have passed restrictions on pesticide use. At least 16 municipalities now have pesticide-free parks policies and 45 others have passed policies that protect pollinators.
This story was updated on 6/25/20.