FoA is joining forces with lawmakers to call on New York City to play clean and ban toxic pesticides from city parks and lands.
New York City Council members Ben Kallos and Carlina Rivera introduced legislation Thursday that would restrict the use of harmful pesticides from public parks and open spaces owned or leased by the city. Under the bill, pesticides would be banned from use within 75 feet of any body of water and the city would have to use biological pesticides, defined as any naturally occurring substances derived by natural materials and not produced from a plant that has been genetically modified for the purpose of creating a pesticide.
“There’s no doubt that pesticides are harmful to wildlife, pollinators and humans. They are non-selective and it’s time cities like New York turn to more favorable organic methods this bill will help promote,’’ said Friends of Animals President Priscilla Feral.
According to the EPA, biopesticides are often more narrowly targeted rather than affecting a broad range of organisms. They quickly decompose and are used in small amounts.
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. Portland, Maine and Montgomery County, Maryland have the toughest restrictions, prohibiting the use of pesticides on public as well as private property in favor of alternative, organic practices, according to Beyond Pesticides, a Washington D.C.-based environmental nonprofit group that is supporting the NYC bill and has helped other communities switch to organic methods.
The city’s most heavily used liquid herbicide is Roundup, which was sprayed 1,365 times in 2013, according to a health department report Kallos previously cited when first introducing the legislation last year.
“Parks should be for playing not pesticides,” said Kallos. “All families should be able to enjoy our city parks without having to worry that they are being exposed to toxic pesticides that could give them and their families cancer. As a new parent, my daughter isn’t allowed to play on the grass, especially because as a baby puts everything in her mouth. I look forward to working with all of our city agencies to ban toxic pesticides and keep our children safe.”
Last summer, San Francisco jurors awarded a groundskeeper $289 million in damages in a case against Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup, whose key ingredient is glyphosate. The groundskeeper, Dewayne Johnson, is suffering from terminal cancer.
“With glyphosate being the poster child for unacceptable hazardous pesticide use around our children and families, this legislation is critically needed to protect the residents and the environment of New York City and advance the adoption of organic land management practices in parks and playing fields,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides.
Council Member Kallos first introduced legislation to limit the use of damaging pesticides in City parks in 2015 after hearing from the students who expressed concerns over the toxicity and health effects on both humans and animals. Since that original bill was introduced, glyphosate has been banned or limited in many jurisdictions throughout the world, including Brazil, France, Netherlands, Portugal. In 2017, the state of California added glyphosate to its official list of chemicals and substances known to cause cancer, according to a press release from Kallos.
FoA members who live in New York City can contact their council members and ask them to support and cosponsor the bill, Introduction 1524-2019.
To find your council representative, you can search online at https://council.nyc.gov/districts/ or call 311 from within NYC or 212-NEW-YORK.
For more on how FoA President Priscilla Feral helped one community go pesticide free, click here.