At a special County Council meeting on Friday June 7, County Council voted to discontinue the use of Roundup for vegetation control along County road guide rails and within the County Forest, for 2019. A delegation by Faye McFarlane, Tom Shea, and Bruce Bellaire, Volunteers with Blue Dot Northumberland, made the case that the arguments used to win the Monsanto court case in California apply and that Roundup use should cease. Staff argued that Health Canada and all pesticide regulators said it was OK but nevertheless deferred a decision to Council. It seems that scientists don’t all agree – besides it’s become a political hot potato. Most vegetation control currently uses mowers “and other forms of preventive maintenance” so Roundup was never used extensively in Northumberland.
The use of Roundup in Northumberland is for a limited number of cases such as roadside guide rails, where staff could be exposed to toxic weeds such as poison ivy and wild parsnip and be exposed to insects such as ticks carrying disease. However, staff did offer an alternative using machinery that could be rented and would cost $84,500 for 2019 versus $12,000 if Roundup is used.
In Ontario, Roundup (based on glyphosate) is classified as a class 9 pesticide and according to Ontario regulations, “Class 9 pesticides are banned for cosmetic purposes because they may pose an unnecessary risk to human health, particularly children’s health.” However, they are allowed for noxious weed control as used by the County.
The most recent California court case accused Monsanto of knowing that Roundup could cause cancer but did not issue a warning. The jury awarded a senior California couple $2B (that’s a B). There are other similar court cases completed and outstanding. Last October, big German chemical company Bayer bought Monsanto – so now they are on the hook for damages. They plan to appeal.
In the end, Council voted to direct staff to not use Roundup and to spend the extra money on machinery and operators – at least for this year. Council then asked staff to “return to Council with a report this fall outlining mechanical, chemical and biological options for vegetation control for future years.”
- County Council Agenda including presentations and staff report
- Ontario Government regulations re Roundup
- Health Canada now reviewing approvals of Roundup 11 Nov 2018 – CBC report