Tag Archives: glyphosate

National Heirloom Expo draws crowds at Sonoma County Fairgrounds


The goal of the National Heirloom Expo is to change the way people see and grow fruits and vegetables.

Shiny, uniform, smooth and common are out. Old varieties that at one time would have been considered homely and unworthy of a spot in the supermarket produce section are venerated by the thousands of growers, home gardeners and vendors pouring into the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa this week for the seventh annual harvest event.

They come from throughout the United States and around the world to admire odd squash, have their pictures taken in front of towers of vegetables, buy organic heirloom seeds and other gardening supplies, and listen to talks from more than 100 speakers, including environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

The Kennedy family scion appeared Tuesday night on a panel discussion about the controversial weed killer glyphosate, commercially sold as Roundup and determined to be carcinogenic.

“This is to preserve our vegetable heritage and pass it on to the next generation. If we don’t do it, no one will,” said David Johansen, one of 300 farmers who grow plants to supply to Baker Creek Seed. The Missouri-based seed company is a leader in the global movement to preserve disappearing heritage varieties and the force behind the expo, now in its seventh year.

Read more at: National Heirloom Expo draws crowds at Sonoma County Fairgrounds | The Press Democrat

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Sustainable Living

Santa Rosa may rethink use of chemical sprays such as Roundup in parks


Santa Rosa is the latest Sonoma County city to take a harder look at how it uses synthetic herbicides like Roundup following the state’s action to list the key ingredient in the weed killer as a known cause of cancer.

The City Council agreed Tuesday to re-bid a large landscaping contract to see if there are maintenance options that don’t use glyphosate-based herbicides such as Roundup, or neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides suspected of contributing to the demise of bee populations.

The city will seek bids for landscaping methods using common chemical sprays, as well as bids using more organic methods outlined by the Russian River Watershed Association.

“I will be very interested to see the Russian River-friendly proposal,” said Councilman Chris Rogers, who urged the city rethink its approach.

The move was the latest by a local government amid rising regulatory and scientific scrutiny of glyphosate, listed this month by California as a cancer-causing agent over the objection of agrichemical giant and Roundup maker Monsanto, which contends it is safe when used appropriately.

Read more at: Santa Rosa may rethink use of chemical sprays such as Roundup in parks | The Press Democrat

Filed under Sustainable Living, Water, Wildlife

Officials work to enforce Roundup rules in Sonoma County 


This spring, a court ruled that the California Environmental Protection Agency can move ahead with its decision to list glyphosate as a cancer-causing agent, a carcinogen, under Proposition 65, after reviewing a body of scientific studies on glyphosate’s potential health risks. The World Health Organization, after its own independent review, took a similar step in 2015.

On a sunny warm May afternoon, Andrew Smith drives around the tree lined, well-tended neighborhoods of Sonoma, on the lookout for a lethal ritual. In a green vest, white Sonoma County Department of Agriculture truck and sunglasses, he’s looking for workers spraying pesticides to kill plants, insects and animals. He stops to make pesticide safety inspections. And when he meets maintenance gardeners using pesticides without a license, he tells them they have to stop until they have one.

Unlicensed pesticide use is a big and growing problem. And Smith, a senior agricultural biologist, acknowledges, his is not a particularly popular job.Armed with colorful booklets, Smith introduces the license, and licensing process, in English or Spanish, as necessary. Sometimes he writes a notice of violation, which can carry a financial penalty. Sometimes, they listen. Sometimes, they turn their back and walk away.

Apart from the maintenance gardeners he approaches, few people even know he’s out there doing it.

But Smith, who grew up in Sonoma County, takes the responsibility seriously. Like his co-workers at the Department of Agriculture, and their counterparts in counties across the state, he’s on the front line to enforce the state rules that protect people and other life in the environment from being poisoned.

Read more at: Officials work to enforce Roundup rules in Sonoma County | The Press Democrat

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Sustainable Living

Pernicious pesticides hiding in plain sight


We talk a lot these days about the importance of civic engagement. If you are convinced that pesticides and your family should not mix, adopt your favorite park or school campus. Though they might be hesitant initially to change the way things are done, with persistence and a smile they will probably allow you to do their job for them.

What’s yellow and orange and dead all over?

Bright orange streaks pop from the verdant Sonoma County landscape this spring. These are poisoned plants, treated by glyphosate. If you are like me, you may have overlooked this phenomenon, but once you know, it is impossible to ignore.Glyphosate (ɡlīf-ə-sāt), the active ingredient in products like RoundUp®, is the chemical of choice for weed control.

Originally promoted for its safety compared to other pesticides, increasing evidence links glyphosate to cancer and other significant health issues. However, these dangers are largely unrecognized by its users and the general public. In fact, the County of Sonoma alone sprayed over 3,800 gallons of glyphosate-based pesticides in public spaces in 2015; from Spring Lake in Santa Rosa to Sunset Beach in Guerneville.

For a long time, I didn’t notice the dead orange weeds along the sidewalks, nor did I think about how they might be affecting my family’s health and local wildlife. I avoided using pesticides at home, but I didn’t consider use at our parks and schools. I am an environmental engineer, who spent my early career cleaning up toxic waste, so I should have known better. Two years ago I was unaware. Then a personal experience woke me up.

Read more at: Pernicious Pesticides – Hiding in Plain Sight – April 2017

Filed under Sustainable Living

California clears hurdle for cancer warning label on Roundup


California can require Monsanto to label its popular weed-killer Roundup as a possible cancer threat despite an insistence from the chemical giant that it poses no risk to people, a judge tentatively ruled Friday.

California would be the first state to order such labeling if it carries out the proposal.Monsanto had sued the nation’s leading agricultural state, saying California officials illegally based their decision for carrying the warnings on an international health organization based in France.

Monsanto attorney Trenton Norris argued in court Friday that the labels would have immediate financial consequences for the company. He said many consumers would see the labels and stop buying Roundup.

“It will absolutely be used in ways that will harm Monsanto,” he said.

After the hearing, the firm said in a statement that it will challenge the tentative ruling.

Read more at: California clears hurdle for cancer warning label on Roundup | The Press Democrat

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Sustainable Living

Sonoma County parents, farmers lobby state over pesticide 


Lobbying groups have been making last-minute pitches to an obscure state agency on an issue that has ramifications throughout the state and particularly in Sonoma County: To what length should farmers go to protect schoolchildren from sprayed pesticides?

The state Department of Pesticide Regulation has proposed a rule that would ban pesticide applications within a quarter-mile of schools and day care centers on weekdays between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Comments are due Friday and the department has received about 500 from various groups, said spokeswoman Charlotte Fadipe.

DPR Director Brian Leahy has said the proposal “builds in additional layers of protection for students and school staff that are located in agricultural areas” as well as ensures better communication.

Parents and anti-pesticide advocates tend to believe the proposal should crack down harder on spraying. Ag groups that include grape growers fear the regulation is overreach, not supported by science.

A study by the state Department of Public Health found 36 percent of 2,511 California schools surveyed in agricultural zones in 2010 had 144 “pesticides of public health concern” sprayed within a quarter mile. It did not determine whether children were actually exposed to such pesticides. The National Pesticide Information Center contends that infants and children are more sensitive to the toxic effects of pesticides than adults, and that parents should take steps to minimize their child’s exposure to them.

Spraying by aircraft, sprinklers, air-blast and all fumigant applications would be covered under the proposed rule. It also would prohibit most dust and powder pesticide applications including sulfur, which is a popular product used generously on Sonoma County farms to combat diseases such as powdery mildew on grapevines. A natural product, sulfur is allowable in organic farming.In 2014, out of the 2.2 million pounds of pesticides used in Sonoma County, 1.4 million pounds were sulfur, according to the department’s database.

The other main pesticides used in Sonoma County include those that come from petroleum (154,542 pounds), mineral oil (115,625 pounds) and various glyphosphates (94,152 pounds), an herbicide category that includes the weed killer known as Roundup, deemed safe by the EPA if used according to directions but criticized by some health groups.

Read more at: Sonoma County parents, farmers lobby state over pesticide | Sonoma Index-Tribune | Sonoma, CA

Filed under Sustainable Living

Sonoma County bans GMO crops

Center for Food Safety, ECOWATCH

The Center for Food Safety celebrated a huge victory in Sonoma County, California, on Wednesday when voters approved a measure that will prohibit genetically engineered crops from being planted in the county.

The passage of the Sonoma County Transgenic Contamination Ordinance, better known as Measure M, will protect local and organic growers and producers who choose not to plant GMO seed.

“Enacting change in the food movement, or any movement, starts at the local level and the passage of Measure M is an incredible victory for Sonoma farmers and gardeners,” Rebecca Spector, West Coast director of the Center for Food Safety, said. “Farmers deserve the right to grow food that is not contaminated by genetic engineering, just as the public deserves the right to purchase organic or GMO-free foods that are free from GMO contamination.”

Measure M passed by a large margin—55.9 percent to 44.9 percent—and Sonoma County now joins several neighboring counties including Marin, Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity and Santa Cruz that have passed similar ballot initiatives to protect farmers and crop integrity.

The Center for Food Safety is especially proud to see the democratic process work on behalf of our food, farmers and environment in this case for local food rights. The legal staff assisted in the drafting of the Sonoma ballot initiative and provided legal and scientific counsel throughout the last year, as with past county bans in California and in other states.

Source: Sonoma County Bans GMO Crops

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Sustainable Living

Op-Ed: Farming into the future in Sonoma County


As we head toward making a decision on whether to allow GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) into our agricultural landscape, we are impacting the future of agriculture AND  our economy. Opening or closing the door to GMO food crops, in a way that will impact all crops grown in Sonoma County, will define what can and cannot be grown here since genetically modified plants spread seed and pollen far beyond the fence that contains them.

We’re also considering laws on a related substance that is intricately connected to GMOs – Roundup® – also known as glyphosate. Why the connection? Because many genetically modified seeds and plants are what is called Roundup-Ready…they are resistant to the chemical that kills weeds. That connection between killing plants and the impacts on people is getting a lot of attention.

Our Board of Supervisors has a choice of voting a GMO ban into law or letting it go to the November ballot. On Tuesday, May 24th – after we went to press – supervisors declined to vote on the ordinance as it stands, and passed it to voters in the November election.

In March 2015, glyphosate was declared to be a “probable human carcinogen.” It’s the primary ingredient in Roundup and is used heavily on GMO crops because they have been engineered to be resistant to it. You can spray an entire field to kill weeds but not harm the plant you want to keep alive…convenient for farmers for reducing competition for water.

Read more at: Farming into the Future in Sonoma County

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Sustainable Living

Op-Ed: Making this area a GMO Free Zone


Please visit our website, GMOFreeSonomaCounty.com, where you can volunteer, donate and endorse with ease. You will find many different volunteer opportunities listed.

There is a grass-roots movement afoot in Sonoma County to join our neighbors to the north and south in creating a coastal GMO free zone. Volunteers for the group Citizens for Healthy Farms and Families can be spotted all over the county collecting signatures to qualify the Sonoma County Transgenic Contamination Prevention Ordinance for the ballot in November.

This ordinance would prohibit the “propagation, cultivation, raising or growing of genetically engineered organisms in Sonoma County.”

Roundup-ready, genetically engineered crops (corn) and grasses (alfalfa, blue grass and fescue) are already moving into Sonoma County. New crops are awaiting approval. This ban on genetically engineered crops is needed in order to protect Sonoma County organic and conventional agriculture from contamination by genetically engineered plant pollen. Without this protection, our families, water and wildlife will continue to suffer from negative health and environmental effects associated with increased Roundup herbicide spraying.

While the overwhelming response to our signature drive has been positive, I have been perplexed over the past several months on the signature-gathering trail by some of the negative viewpoints expressed.

Read more: Close to Home: Making this area a GMO Free Zone | The Press Democrat

Filed under Agriculture/Food System

January 28 – Forum on Roundup

Watertrough Children’s Alliance and Sierra Club Sonoma Group 
present a Special Event

ROUNDUP: Updates on recent WHO findings and the California EPA’s stance on glyphosate

In 2015, the World Health Organization determined that glyphosate (the active ingredient of Roundup), the most-used herbicide in the world and in Sonoma County, is a probable human carcinogen. What has happened since this finding and how is the California EPA responding? Learn about recent actions on glyphosate and also help to support legal action to limit the environmental impacts of vineyards in Sonoma County.

January 28, 2016 @6:00pm,  Sebastopol Grange, 6000 Sebastopol Ave. (on Hwy 12)

Moderator: Sarah Glade Gurney, mayor of Sebastopol

Speaker: Jonathan Evan, attorney, Center for Biological Diversity

Speaker: Ella Teevan, organizer, Food & Water Watch

$20 per person, includes dinner catered by Seed and presentation.

Registration: http://wcaroundupevent.brownpapertickets.com/

For further information, email info@wcachildren.org or download the poster below.


Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Land Use, Sustainable Living