March 2019, Safe Grow’s response to Mike Riley’s letter on Parks decision to continue use of glyphosate products:
1. We are adamantly opposed to Riley’s suggestion that Parks report to PHED rather than T&E committee. This law was proposed and written as an environmental law and oversight has been with T&E since it passed in 2015. Parks’ own stated mission on its website is to “Protect and interpret our valuable natural and cultural resources; balance demand for recreation with the need for conservation…”–and Law 52-14 was passed to help fulfill that mission.
2. Riley’s argument that the EPA has stated that Glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans” ignores the very reason that the Montgomery County Council passed Law 52-14 by an overwhelming majority (and said reason is in the Preamble to the law): that the EPA has failed to adequately protect human health, so the county must.
b. EPA studies don’t take into account sensitive populations (pregnant women, children, elderly);
c. EPA studies (which are mostly industry-funded) do not study pesticides for repeated, long-term exposure effects; the EPA does not test how pesticide ingredients interact with each other, or test their inert ingredients.
f. After the law passed in 2015, more studies have been published that have linked glyphosate to Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma as well as autism in children when pregnant women are exposed to it. Here is the link to the recent study on autism: https://www.bmj.com/content/364/bmj.l962
3. Two juries have since concluded that glyphosate causes cancer, and public alarm over this issue should not be disregarded. Parks should extend the moratorium until they know with 100% certainty it is safe for parks users.
4. Parks claims to practice IPM, but their own records show that this is not the case: For example, this very week (March 27.28), Parks will do broadcast treatment of the entire turf area of Brookside Gardens- just 2 days before the public will be engaging in the Park Stroll, exposing 1000s of visitors to risk. Furthermore, the records show that Glyphosate is used routinely for regular, not invasive, weeds, which contradicts IPM. Routine and broadcast application are patently inconsistent with IPM principles.
5. Parks claims, as it did at the Sept. 19, 2018 hearing, that it has reduced its use of pesticides but offers no records of this, nor how much money is spent on pesticide usage. Please provide at the next T&E hearing.
6. The law mandates that Parks transition more parks to pesticide-free. In 3 years, there are only 10 parks out of 420 that have gone pesticide free. What is the plan for more parks- will this be announced, or are 10 (4%) of Parks to be the only ones?
7. Parks states it applies glyphosate to help with storm water management– but applying this pesticide close to the water creates further runoff issues that will worsen with climate change and the heavy rains we are experiencing– this is a hazard to our drinking water and aquatic life.
8. Regarding liability, while the County cannot be sued, it should concern everyone that workers don’t agree to be exposed to what two juries (and counting) have declared to be a highly carcinogenic pesticide. The health of visitors should be a top priority as well, and as Councilmember Hucker’s petition has proved, county residents are strongly opposed to glyphosate in the Parks.
9. Since the moratorium was only during the winter months, when glyphosate would not be applied anyway, a true moratorium needs to be enacted while safer alternatives and their effectiveness is determined.
10. Lastly, the argument that weeds pose a hazard is simply ridiculous. Is there evidence that any Parks users have tripped on crabgrass and suffered a concussion or broken bones? The risk of being exposed to a carcinogenic, endocrine-disrupting, and dangerous to development pesticide seems to outweigh any of the vague “risks” proposed by Mr. Riley.
Montgomery County Parks could take the lead on this issue rather than continue to resist what more studies and more juries have concluded: that glyphosate is highly toxic and should be discontinued where humans, pets, and pollinators are routinely exposed.