Thu, 09/27/2018 - 6:45pm

Safe if used properly

To the Editor:

It is my hope that this letter will explain and defend some of the allegations regarding the safe use of glyphosate, the main ingredient in the herbicide known as Roundup that came up at the Conservation Commission meeting to consider banning the use of glyphosate.

“Glyphosate is a non-selective, non-residual broad-spectrum, foliar applied, post-emergence herbicide that is highly effective against emerged grasses, brush, and broadleaf weeds. The summarized studies indicate that glyphosate is absorbed to mineral clays and organic matter and is excluded from these sites by inorganic phosphate. Glyphosate has limited pre-emergence herbicidal activity in most soils because of its tendency to absorb strongly to soil.” (Absorption: The adhesion in an extremely thin layer of molecules in gasses, solutes, or liquids with which they are in contact.) A low soil absorption coefficient is an indication that glyphosate will not move readily through soil, and under conditions of the summarized studies, would not leach into non-target areas. Glyphosate is inactivated in soil and water by microbial degradation. When applied to foliage, glyphosate is readily absorbed and translocated to various parts of the plant, via the phloem (the plant’s interior plumbing system).

The article in the Sept. 22 2018 edition of The Block island Times, quoted a letter from the Conservation Commission from 2015 listing countries banning the use of glyphosate, including Germany. The letter also reported that Germany was calling for a ban for the entire European Union, representing 28 EU countries. In fact, on Nov. 27, 2017, the European Union voted to keep using glyphosate for another five years. Eighteen countries voted in favor, nine voted no, and one abstained.

Mr. [Michael] Chapman, who is spearheading the effort to ban the herbicide, took issue with me when I stated that the incidence of cancer in Argentina did not significantly differ between agricultural areas and areas with very limited agriculture.

In recent interviews and formal reports, the head of the Provincial Cancer Hospital in Cordova, the minister of agriculture, and an agri-chemical specialist, all emphasized that while cancer is a concern for the province, the rate is no higher than anywhere else in the country. One of the reports stated that “one area where cancer rates are trending higher did not engage in any agriculture.” (March 28, 2016)

While island resident John Hopf expressed concern that the use of glyphosate at the airport produces a lot of runoff, research has shown that, as stated above, glyphosate is absorbed in soil. In the 40 years of glyphosate, there is little documentation that runoff has caused any problems.

In the discussion at the Conservation Commission meeting, I mentioned that the area that was sprayed with glyphosate was infinitesimal. To be more precise, I used the calculation:

I have an unopened container of Roundup Super Concentrate of 35 ounces. The active ingredient is 50 percent glyphosate. Thus, 17.5 ounces of glyphosate is our base. The usage label states that this will cover 6,900 square feet. A total of 17.5 ounces divided by 6,900 square feet equals .0025 ounces per square foot. This is 25 thousandths of one percent of an ounce of glyphosate per square foot of land. This to me is infinitesimal.

Finally, Conservation Commission member Fred Leeder stated, “Don’t tell me everyone is using [glyphosate] to direction. If it works, people would probably double the amount. It’s human nature.” This represents one of the major problems with the use of pesticides. Regardless of all the effort that goes into the formulation and precautions in the use of a material that is reviewed and approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Environmental Protection. There are those that will do their own thing and then when a problem arrives they blame everyone but themselves.

Frederick H. Nelson

Beach Avenue


Lyme disease a “scourge”

To the Editor:

It is with sadness that we add another Block Island resident to the growing list of those who have died due to tick borne diseases. There are also family members and friends who are disabled and suffering greatly from the effects of tick borne diseases.

What does it take to get individuals and a community to take action to prevent this scourge?

Why can’t this small island community take positive steps to put an end to human suffering? It can be done. Other communities have effectively stopped this disease and its damaging and deadly outcomes. We need leadership and commitment. We need to make this a priority.

Pamela A. Hinthorn, Ph.D.

Nurse Practitioner

Minister’s Lot