Roundup Facing Its Judges

from Food First

Glyphosate is everywhere: in our food, in our water, in our soils.

After her best selling film and book, The World according to Monsanto, award-winning journalist Marie-Monique Robin presents her newest documentary, Roundup Facing Its Judges, covering the devastating impact of glyphosate-based herbicides used around the world. Roundup Facing Its Judges brings us the voices of the workers, farmers, and communities at the forefront of glyphosate exposure to demonstrate the scale of one of the greatest environmental and health scandals in modern history. Filmed throughout the International Monsanto Tribunal held in The Hague, you will also hear from scientists, lawyers, and doctors who reveal evidence of glyphosate’s dangers while also exposing the consequences of agribusiness’ power over our global food system….

read more, view trailer, order book at Food First. Image from trailer:

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New Study Shows Roundup Kills Bees

Sierra, 10/3/18

Glyphosate targets undesired weeds—as well as honeybees

The most widely sprayed herbicide in the world kills honeybees, according to a new report.

Glyphosate, an herbicide and active ingredient in Monsanto’s (now Bayer’s) Roundup weed killer, targets enzymes long assumed to be found only in plants. The product is advertised as being innocuous to wildlife. But some bacteria also use this enzyme, including a microbiome found in the intestines of most bees. When pollinators come in contact with glyphosate, the chemical reduces this gut bacteria, leaving bees vulnerable to pathogens and premature death.

“The bee itself has no molecular targets from glyphosate,” Nancy Moran, a biologist at the University of Texas at Austin and a coauthor of the study, told Environmental Health News. “But its gut bacteria do have targets.”

Moran and other scientists liken glyphosate exposure to taking too many antibiotics—and upsetting the balance of good bacteria that supports immunity and digestion….

read more at Sierra

Sierra Club Youth Corps, summary 2017-

The Sierra Club Youth Corps is a summer program offered by Don’t Spray Me! beginning in 2017.

As part of the Sustainability Committee of Sierra Club’s Southeastern PA Group, Don’t Spray Me! works toward Sierra Club’s goal of cutting back human practices harmful to nature and human health.

In SCYC’s 2017 project, organized by Margaret and Jim Hudgings, a group of high school students (photo below by Bill Rettew, Daily Local News, 7/17/17) experimented on neighborhood sidewalks to show that a non-toxic solution is effective in fighting weeds in brick sidewalks.

This anti-Roundup weed-killing formula consists of:

1 gallon distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup table salt
1/2 teaspoon liquid dish soap

How to do it: Pour a small amount of vinegar into your, then pour the salt into the jug of vinegar and shake it vigorously. Pour the salted vinegar into the sprayer and add the liquid dish soap. Swirl the sprayer to mix in the soap, but not so much as to generate suds. Spray it on the target weeds, ideally in the morning of a very sunny day. When finished, spray plain water for a few seconds to clean the wand.

SCYC’s 2018 project, Adopt A Drain, was organized by geologist Rachel Davis. Thanks to a generous Sierra Club Grassroots Network grant, we were able to hire West Chester University graduate student Kyle Erisman to be part of the field surveys and particularly to produce GIS mapping of storm drains in the Borough.

Participants, under careful guidelines, walked selected streets to locate storm drains, clear above-ground blockage (including environmentally damaging plastic bags), peered through the street grills, and reported to the Borough Department of Public Works whether drains needed attention as being clogged below ground or containing potentially mosquito-breeding stagnant water (below: map by Kyle Erisman showing drains, streams, and other features).

In 2019, we plan to continue this project by organizing citizens to patrol storm drains in their neighborhoods and report drainage problems to the Borough, while reorienting the Sierra Club Youth Corps to another innovative and educational project.

Tell the USDA: Test our food for Monsanto’s toxic glyphosate NOW

from Friends of the Earth, 10/4/18

The USDA tests our food for pesticides to make sure it’s safe for us to eat. But it’s not testing for glyphosate — a.k.a. Monsanto’s Roundup®.

The California Supreme Court recently affirmed that glyphosate is dangerous to humans. The World Health Organization named it as a probable carcinogen. And the EU and Canada are already testing for it in food.

The USDA is dragging its feet on protecting us from this toxic pesticide. We need your help to change that!

Tell the USDA: Test our food for Monsanto’s toxic glyphosate.

The science is clear. Roundup® is terrible for people and the planet. It’s used to douse our food, including common crops like soy and wheat. This toxic pesticide is ending up on our plates and in our bodies.

The amount of Roundup® being used each year has increased significantly. Use jumped from only 11 million pounds in 1987 to nearly 300 million pounds in 2016.

That means Roundup® is sneaking into our food in increasingly dangerous ways. This summer, new tests revealed glyphosate in cereal and granola bars commonly eaten by kids….

read more details and sign here.

One man’s suffering exposed Monsanto’s secrets to the world

by Carey Gillam, The Guardian, 8/11/18

It was a verdict heard around the world. In a stunning blow to one of the world’s largest seed and chemical companies, jurors in San Francisco have told Monsanto it must pay $289m in damages to a man dying of cancer which he claims was caused by exposure to its herbicides.

Monsanto, which became a unit of Bayer AG in June, has spent decades convincing consumers, farmers, politicians and regulators to ignore mounting evidence linking its glyphosate-based herbicides to cancer and other health problems. The company has employed a range of tactics – some drawn from the same playbook used by the tobacco industry in defending the safety of cigarettes – to suppress and manipulate scientific literature, harass journalists and scientists who did not parrot the company’s propaganda, and arm-twist and collude with regulators. Indeed, one of Monsanto’s lead defense attorneys in the San Francisco case was George Lombardi, whose resumé boasts of his work defending big tobacco.

Now, in this one case, through the suffering of one man, Monsanto’s secretive strategies have been laid bare for the world to see. Monsanto was undone by the words of its own scientists, the damning truth illuminated through the company’s emails, internal strategy reports and other communications.

The jury’s verdict found not only that Monsanto’s Roundup and related glyphosate-based brands presented a substantial danger to people using them, but that there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Monsanto’s officials acted with “malice or oppression” in failing to adequately warn of the risks….

read more at The Guardian

Tell the National School Boards Association: No More Monsanto Roundup Weedkiller!

Petition from MoveOn

To be delivered to Frank C. Pugh, President, National School Boards Association, All National School Boards Association Board Members

As the organization representing the top decision-makers at U.S. school districts, you have a responsibility to millions of parents and school children to protect children from harm.

In light of the latest evidence that Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller causes cancer, the National School Board Association must do these two things:

One, issue a formal policy statement advising all school districts to end the use of Roundup and all toxic agro-chemicals on school grounds.

Two, issue a formal policy statement advising all school districts to revamp their school lunch programs by transitioning to certified organic foods, in order to avoid serving foods contaminated with glyphosate and other pesticides.

On August 10, 2018, a jury awarded $289.2 million to Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, a former school groundskeeper whose job required him to spray Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller on school properties.

Mr. Johnson is terminally ill with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer linked to the use of Monsanto’s Roundup and other glyphosate-based weedkillers.

In the case of Dewayne Johnson v. Monsanto Co, Johnson’s lawyers argued that Monsanto’s flagship weedkiller caused Mr. Johnson’s cancer. They also presented evidence that Monsanto had known for decades that Roundup could cause cancer, but that company officials intentionally failed to warn consumers about that risk.

In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency on Cancer Research classified glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, as a “probable” human carcinogen.

On August 15, five days after the verdict in Dewayne Johnson v. Monsanto Co., California’s Supreme Court rejected Monsanto’s challenge to the state’s decision to list glyphosate as a potential carcinogen under the California’s Proposition 65, a law requiring the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects.

In the U.S., more than 26 million pounds of Roundup are sprayed every year on school grounds, public playgrounds and gardens.

Recent testing reveals that glyphosate is present in a multitude of common conventionally grown foods, including those served in school cafeterias.

Toxic poisons have no place in U.S. schools, either on playgrounds or in cafeteria food. Please act immediately to rid schools of Roundup and other toxic chemicals.

Weed Killer in $289 Million Cancer Verdict Found in Oat Cereal and Granola Bars

Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., Toxicologist, “Weed Killer in $289 Million Cancer Verdict Found in Oat Cereal and Granola Bars,” Environmental Working Group, 8/15/18

By Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., Toxicologist

Popular oat cereals, oatmeal, granola and snack bars come with a hefty dose of the weed-killing poison in Roundup, according to independent laboratory tests commissioned by EWG.

Glyphosate, an herbicide linked to cancer by California state scientists and the World Health Organization, was found in all but two of 45 samples of products made with conventionally grown oats. Almost three-fourths of those samples had glyphosate levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health with an adequate margin of safety. About one-third of 16 samples made with organically grown oats also had glyphosate, all at levels well below EWG’s health benchmark.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the Monsanto weed killer that is the most heavily used pesticide in the U.S. Last week, a California jury ordered Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to a man dying of cancer, which he says was caused by his repeated exposure to large quantities of Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers while working as a school groundskeeper.

EWG tested more than a dozen brands of oat-based foods to give Americans information about dietary exposures that government regulators are keeping secret. In April, internal emails obtained by the nonprofit US Right to Know revealed that the Food and Drug Administration has been testing food for glyphosate for two years and has found “a fair amount,” but the FDA has not released its findings….

Keep reading and see list of oat products with glyphosate content at Environmental Working Group. Short version: avoid non-organic oat products, especially Quaker Old Fashioned Oats and Cheerios.

The risks outweigh the benefits

by George Squire CRNP, Active member of DSM

We have noted in recent months that the risks outweigh the benefits when it come to spraying for mosquitoes.

Chemical sensitivity in humans and animals can be deadly when sprays are used indiscriminately. The entire planet becomes the target for such spraying. Infinitely preferable is the use of preventative measures such as BT larvicide which has proved very effective in stopping mosquitoes before they hatch.

As in the field of Medicine, prevention is the key to effective control of this problem. Over the past decade, Medicine has moved toward an evidence-based approach, which has produced some sound research-based science. The data from the use of pesticide and herbicidal sprays has been sadly lacking regarding any potential benefit from their use. Unfortunately, we will always be able to count on the lobbying on behalf of the chemical companies to propagandize us about the benign nature of their products. Their desire for increased profit will continue to skew the public’s understanding of the true nature of these chemicals.

A friend from St Peter’s Village who is a beekeeper and maintains a garden there, has noticed a drastic decline in his bees and other beneficial insects. A steady drop off like this in bees and other beneficial creatures could lead to an agricultural disaster for consumers and farmers alike. Future untold problems could arise with shortages in fruits and vegetables, not to mention farm animals and pets that may eat the poisoned crops.

Let us appeal to our public servants assigned to these tasks. Let us ask them to put their constituents first and make our neighborhoods safer, and maintain the constitutional right to happiness. Let us remind them that there are alternatives to using poison in our water and on our land.

Entomologist John Jackson: “Bugs and Weeds Away–the Natural Way”

On May 29, John Jackson (BA in biology, MA in zoology, PhD in entomology) spoke on having a weed-free sidewalk and neutralizing mosquito breeding spots without using harmful chemicals. His talk at Iron Works Church in West Chester was sponsored by Don’t Spray Me! / Sierra Club and the South West Association of Neighbors (SWAN).

Here are some highlights of his talk and the subsequent discussion (with some resorting of topics):

1) Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are the best-known insects in the world, because of their role in spreading diseases, especially malaria, yellow fever, and dengue. But the ways chemical tools have been overused against them are not in the interest of either people or wildlife. Chemicals may be needed to prevent massive epidemics, especially in the tropics, but when overused become ineffective because insects develop resistance.

There are lots of biting flies beyond mosquitoes. Here, the predominantly evening-biting Culex mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus but day-biting Aedes (including Asian Tiger, which has been in the US only since 1985) almost never do. People should not view all insects (of which most don’t bite) as enemies.

Culex, the “house mosquito,” overwinters as adults in sheds, porches, tree hollows, and other sheltered areas. The adult mosquitoes we see in May have overwintered; they may have not yet had time to reproduce. Culex mosquitoes love urban environments, where they lay eggs in water where larvae feed on bacteria and organic matter.

West Nile Virus, which came to the US in 1999, depends on birds as a reservoir (unlike Zika, whose reservoir is people, making it easier to contain, as recently in Miami). Some birds, which in the past were often dying of WNV, appear now to be developing immunity. Fortunately, WNV is not transmitted through mosquito eggs, only from a bitten bird to another bitten bird or human. Known human WNV cases have been rare in PA.

Effective non-chemical defenses include tight-fitting screens, fans on ceilings or porches, repellents (notably lemon eucalyptus oil, picaridin, or citronella oil), various odoriferous granules spread in gardens or lawns.

Fogging with pesticides is a bad idea, because it kills many species, including mosquito predators like spiders; drift cannot be controlled; and it kills only adult mosquitoes, whereas many more larvae are just waiting to hatch every day and take over the air space.

The absolutely most important thing is to eliminate standing water, including where we might not think of it: in plastic bottles, the folds of tarps, in the fixed bottoms under some potted plants, even vases in cemeteries.

From mosquito egg to adult probably takes 10-15 days when weather is hot and damp, but 25-30 days with temperatures in the 70’s.

The bacteria-based larvcide Bti is very effective at killing mosquito larvae. The biscuits and granules have slower release than liquid and powder form. The hormonal Methoprene is also not toxic and prevents the metamorphosis to adult.

One of the worst sampling stations is in SE West Chester; it is not clear if that is related to Goose Creek. Trash in suburban streams creates mosquito habitat. And water can stand in old storm sewer lines like the Borough’s.

2) Weeds

Some undesired plants, like dandelions and poison ivy, are best dug up. Weeds are tough, but weakening them by cutting off the leaves a few times makes them more vulnerable to other treatments.

Old-school boiling water works really well; be careful, wear boots and goggles! Ditto butane flame torches. Or: a weak acid breaks down cell walls; vinegar works, but changes the soil chemistry.

He prefers to use 1 cup of borax (another kind of salt) in 1 gallon of warm water to kill weeds. The borax concentration can be doubled if needed. It also, for better or worse, it also kills ants, moss, lichen, and liverwort. Two applications a summer usually suffice, preferably in hot dry weather, since rain washes the borax away.

Regular table salt also kills plants; witness the die-off this past winter along roads and alleys in the Borough, which uses salt and brine to melt snow and ice. Municipalities tend to use twice as much salt as 20 years ago, even though less harmful substances are available. As a result, streams have increased chloride levels; he measured half the salt content of seawater in one stream.


excess salt, edge of alley, West Chester, 12/20/17

DSM’s secret weed-killing formula

by Jim Hudgings

Here is the sidewalk spray recipe used by the Sierra Club Youth Corps program in summer 2017, as a good alternative to toxic herbicides:

1 gallon distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup table salt
1/2 teaspoon liquid dish soap

I pour a small amount of vinegar from the jug into my sprayer in order to make room in the jug for salt, then pour the salt into the jug of vinegar and shake it vigorously to dissolve the salt so that it won’t clog my sprayer nozzle. Pour the salted vinegar into the sprayer and add the liquid dish soap. Briefly swirl the sprayer to mix in the soap, but not enough to generate suds. Spray it on the sidewalk, ideally in the morning of a very sunny day.

When finished, I spray plain water for a few seconds to clean the wand and nozzle in order to avoid re-crystallized salt from clogging the nozzle.