Ready for the “Round-up”? Saying “No” to Glyphosate in New York City’s Parks
When will the City re-examine and change its methods when it comes to its creation of environmental and health chaos?
On August 24, 2015, Reverend Billy drummed this theme (literally), as 40 members of the Church of Stop Shopping and No Spray activists flocked to Prospect Park to initiate a new campaign against the City’s use of the herbicide Glyphosate (Monsanto’s “Roundup”). This past March, the World Health Organization ruled that Roundup is a likely carcinogen, causing birth defects and other serious neurological and biological ailments. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is placing new restrictions on the herbicide. Stopping the use of Glyphosate is the focus of ecological activists worldwide, but the St. Louis-based corporation has its highly paid lobbyists who continue to press local, state and even federal governments to keep using its dangerous product.
Reverend Billy preached to the crowd, “This park is riddled with toxins. The Parks Commissioner can’t seem to pull gyphosate out of the herbicides.” Reverend Billy, Savitri D. and others spoke and the Stop Shopping choir sang about the dangers of Round Up, and especially its poisoning of bees and other beneficial insects. They led a parade through the park chanting and singing past the Parks Department’s beautiful old-time warehouses. The group stopped in the area where the spray trucks are stationed and then tied hot pink cards to the fence that read: “Round Up Kills. Stop Spraying.”
The No Spray Coalition against pesticides has for 14 years opposed the application of glyphosate (Roundup), particularly on sidewalks around schools and parks. In response to our letters and meetings, the City added a colored dye to the chemicals to warn people that it had been applied, so if you see blue or yellow dye on grassy areas, between sidewalk cracks, etc., you know to avoid it. However, young kids see that dye and stomp through it, roll around it it, ride their bikes through it, etc. It is an ATTRACTOR to children, despite the intent.
Around 10 years ago, the No Spray Coalition met with former Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Julius Spiegel, and he agreed to at least have announcements made over the speakers in every public school if glyphosate — or any herbicide — was applied in the general vicinity. This seemed to be a cost-effective no-brainer. But this never happened despite the agreement with Spiegel. His right-hand man, a biochemical “specialist”, engaged us in a debate over glyphosate, saying how “safe” the chemical was despite the written and very thorough information provided from Greenpeace and Beyond Pesticides (one of the co-Plaintiffs in the NoSpray Coalition’s lawsuit against the City, which was settled seven years after filing) showing it to be a dangerous and potential carcinogen.
Those meetings with Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Spiegel were ten years ago. Now, finally, we’re vindicated by an important international agency which has condemned the use of glyphosate, but how many people have been injured in the meantime?
Brooklyn’s jewel, Prospect Park, is managed by a private organization, the Prospect Park Alliance. The PPA had previously denied using Roundup within the 585 acre park, but a spokesperson for the Alliance now states that the Parks Department does use “small amounts” in the park. For years, the No Spray Coalition and the Brooklyn Greens had met with officials to ban the application of Roundup and other herbicides and pesticides to the perimeter to kill weeds. Workers used to weed the “undesirable flora” by hand, until Parks Department budget cuts over the last 25 years caused them to axe 70 percent of the workforce and replaced their methodical work with the spraying of chemical poisons.
Brooklyn remains the most heavily pesticided and herbicided county in the entire state, a situation exacerbated by the switch to chemical pest controls to substitute for the workers who were laid off.
When something is known to have dangerous environmental and health impacts, no matter what the reason, it should be eliminated from usage. Apparently, the City Council is working on a bill around Round Up and may hold a hearing. It can’t happen soon enough.
Learn about the dangers of glyphosate and the campaigns against it, here:
Will City’s Parks Department Stop use of Monsanto’s Roundup After International Report Declares Chemical a Carcinogen?; Washington Square Park Blog, March 27, 2015
Lobbyist claims Monsanto Roundup ingredient Glyphosate safe to drink, then refuses to drink it via BoingBoing, March 27, 2015
Monsanto’s Roundup Is the Most Used Herbicide in NYC Parks Mother Jones, September 2012