By MATTHEW MEYER | Reporter
A California state health agency joined the debate surrounding the widely used herbicide Roundup this summer, adding a key ingredient for the spray, glyphosate, to their list of chemicals “known to cause cancer.”
LA City landscapers stopped using Roundup in Pacific Palisades last year, when neighbors expressed concerns about the spray’s use in the bluffs below Via de las Olas and El Medio, as well as along both sides of lower Temescal Canyon Park.
A campaign by Palisadian Barbara Edelman helped end the chemical’s use, and spurred City Councilmember Mike Bonin to order the LA Department of Recreation and Parks to explore citywide alternatives.
Edelman is a long-time green campaigner, fighting in the past to promote the use of “gray water” from washing machines for lawn greening.
She’s also lead the way against the controversial Monsanto-manufactured pesticide.
Her latest victory?
California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment says Roundup and other herbicides containing glyphosate are “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
Monsanto, the chemical manufacturing giant responsible for Roundup, immediately refuted the claim, calling glyphosate’s inclusion “unwarranted on the basis of science and law.”
Now that the chemical is on OEHHA’s list, Proposition 65 requires bottles of Roundup in California to notify customers about the chemical’s presence and the state’s safety findings.
While Roundup remains out of use in the Palisades, the promised, LA-wide report on alternatives to the chemical has been slow moving.
Bonin first ordered the review in June 2016. In February, a Rec and Parks official told the Palisadian-Post that the department’s report back to Council was due in April or May.
That briefing never took place, though the department confirmed last month that they are “still evaluating alternative vegetation management solutions and best practices.”
While OEHHA’s findings dealt another blow to Monsanto’s claims that Roundup is not carcinogenic, the chemical is not without its supporters in Los Angeles and beyond.
In an LA Times editorial this year, co-authors Henry Miller, a physician and molecular biologist, and Julie Kelly, a National Review food writer, argued that glyphosate “is in the same cancer-causing category as dental implants, consuming meat, being a barber and doing work that disrupts your biological clock.”
In other words, the duo said glyphosate fears are spurred by risk assessments that rank chemicals based on a spuriously low threshold for harm, deeming them carcinogenic if they hold cancer-causing potential at any level, rather than taking average exposure into account.
Across the board, health agencies are split.
The World Health Organization lists glyphosate as a likely carcinogen, while the U.S. EPA merely states that studies have been inconclusive.
Outside of the ongoing cancer discussion, Palisadians cited environmental concerns, including research linking Roundup to monarch butterfly die-offs and bee colony collapses, among the reasons to stop using the chemical in town.
Los Angeles’ policy as a whole remains in flux.
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