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NYC dousing parks with Monsanto’s Roundup despite risks to public

A coalition of various groups of concerned citizens met with Mitchell J. Silver, commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation on Tuesday last week to talk about the city’s use of glyphosates.

The groups demanded the city end the use of Monsanto’s Roundup and make a full public disclosure of areas where the herbicide is sprayed. Based on information in the Pesticide Use by New York City Agencies in 2014, NYC applied glyphosate 2,748 times in 2014.

The report stated: “In comparison to reporting amounts in 2013, there was a 16% increase in herbicide use by volume reversing a declining trend. Much of the change was due to a 9% increase in glyphosate products used.” The report also revealed that the four glyphosates used included Roundup Promax, Roundup Ultra Herbicide, Accord XRT II, and Glypro.

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However, according to information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the city revealed only 2,000 locations where the chemical was used. But for areas like Central Park and other areas managed by non-profit conservancy groups, information about the application of Roundup has not been forthcoming.

The meeting with the Parks and Recreation Department came at almost the same time that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the agency would begin testing of certain foods for glyphosate residues, according to Eater.

FDA spokesperson Lauren Sucher told Civil Eats the agency is going ahead and will be testing soybeans, corn, milk, and eggs, “among other potential foods” in Fiscal Year 2016. Monsanto is, of course, not very happy about the agency’s latest move.

According to the FDA, the move to testing for glyphosate residues is in response to a growing public concern over the safety of the herbicide, but it also comes after the U.S Government Accountability Office (GAO) rebuked the agency for not doing assessments on glyphosate residues in foods and keeping that little mistake from the public.

Glyphosate use in the United States has a long and troubling history. Thirty years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency declared glyphosates “probably” causes cancer in people, based on mouse studies. Then, six years later it reversed itself, giving Roundup the “all-clear.”

Then after the World Health organization declared glyphosate was a probable cause of cancer in people in March 2015, Monsanto fought back, saying they had an “agenda” and was “cherry picking” the data. The latest controversy brewing, including the demand that NYC stop using Roundup and the FDA’s announcement about testing some foods for glyphosate residues shows just how contentious the situation has become.

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Written By

Karen Graham is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for environmental news. Karen's view of what is happening in our world is colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in man's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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