Government officials in Passaic County, New Jersey are looking for glyphosate alternatives, as concerns mount that the popular weed killer might be linked to cancer.
According to NewJersey.com, Passaic County has long used glyphosate – the active ingredient in Monsanto Roundup – to eradicate roadside weeds.
In March 2015, however, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), declared glyphosate a probable human carcinogen after an independent review suggested occupational exposure increased the risk of cancer, especially non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other regulators have since declared glyphosate safe, critics claim their reviews gave too much weight to studies ghostwritten or otherwise manipulated by Monsanto.
Earlier this year, University of Washington researchers suggested glyphosate exposure increased the risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma by as much as 41%. And in April, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry said it couldn’t rule out a cancer link and called for further investigation.
Residents of Passaic County first sought glyphosate alternatives in 20017. But officials declined to act, asserting the chemical was a more cost-effective remedy than mowing.
Last month, however, members of Sustainable West Milford and the West Milford Township Council sent letters to the county requesting a substitute for high grass and weeds on Echo Lake, Marshall Hill, Macopin and Union Valley roads.
Freeholder Director John Bartlett then asked the county’s health director and road management team to get involved, and suggested alternatives should be discussed in preparation for the 2020 growing season. The matter is expected to be addressed during the October 22nd Freeholders meeting.
Renee Allessio, of Sustainable West Milford, told NewJersey.com that she and other members will continue to attend meetings to advocate for glyphosate alternatives. While some have suggested organic pesticides could replace glyphosate, she maintained that killing weeds was not an acceptable solution.
“We believe in planting wildflowers as the only viable solution, and mowing some areas,” Allessio said.
Planting wild flowers, fostering native plants, and encouraging the growth of milkweed along the roadside would prevent the growth of undesirable vegetation, protect bees and butterflies, and be more aesthetically pleasing.
Bayer AG, which acquired Monsanto in June 2018, is defending more than 18,000 Roundup lawsuits in courts around the United States that blame glyphosate for causing cancer. While three cases have gone to trial since August 2018, the company has yet to win a single verdict.
Bayer is participating in court-ordered settlement talks being led by prominent attorney Ken Feinberg, and indicated it would consider a financially reasonable Roundup settlement. However, the company continues to deny glyphosate is carcinogenic.
All Roundup lawsuit trials scheduled for the remainder of the year have been postponed to allow the parties to focus on the ongoing settlement discussions.