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Citizens graciously volunteer to pull weeds by hand in order to avoid glyphosate being sprayed on parks and public spaces

Pulling weeds

(NaturalNews) Local residents in Surrey, British Columbia (Canada) were horrified when they found that the herbicide glyphosate (trade name Roundup) was going to be sprayed in order to control invasive species in Hyland Park. The park adjoins several homes, and contains salmon-bearing streams.

The outraged citizens offered to pull the invasive species out by hand, but their offer was not accepted.

In 2015, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that glyphosate is a "probable carcinogen." It has particularly been linked to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The report noted that more glyphosate is produced than any other herbicide on earth.

"Glyphosate has been detected in the air during spraying, in water, and in food," the IARC wrote. "The general population is exposed primarily through residence near sprayed areas, home use, and diet."

'Chemical warfare'

Surrey resident Ken Borrie, a retired schoolteacher, was one of those who drew public attention to the planned spraying. He became aware of it when visiting the park – which lies right behind his house – and noticing a warning sign that the park would be sprayed with glyphosate in order to kill an invasive species called lamium.

The sign warned that park visitors should "avoid contact with targeted vegetation for a minimum of 24 hours after application."

Borrie called on the park to cancel the spraying plans, noting that the salmon-bearing streams in the park flow into Hyland Creek.

"I am amazed that the city is allowed to spray when the runoff has to go in these ... streams," he said.

Borrie and other spraying opponents noted that volunteer effort could easily take care of the lamium problem.

"Yes it's invasive and a nuisance but easy to rip out by hand," Borrie said. "We would be happy to volunteer – no need for chemical warfare."

Borrie was not alone in his outrage, according to his wife Anne.

"We are all shocked to see this," she said. "Certainly we don't want it sprayed anywhere near us."

But the citizens' concerns were dismissed by the city government, which noted that the Canadian government has ruled that glyphosate-containing products pose no "unacceptable" health or environmental risks if used as indicated.

Not all governments fooled

Yet, not all governments are as confident in Roundup's safety as those of Canada and the United States. Indeed, both El Salvador and Sri Lanka have banned glyphosate use, due to research linking it to an epidemic of Fatal Chronic Kidney Disease (CKDu). Concerns over CKDu recently led the Consumers Association of Penang to call on Malaysia to adopt a similar policy.

There are 172 different glyphosate-containing herbicide brands in Malaysia. Approximately 2.5 million Malaysians suffer from kidney-related diseases.

In North America, the unwillingness of state and federal governments to take action against glyphosate has sparked hundreds of local efforts to rein in the dangerous chemical. In Canada alone, 170 different communities have enacted bylaws placing regulations on various forms of pesticide (including herbicide) usage.

One such effort is underway in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (PEI). Although the scope of the proposed bylaw would be limited – it would apply only to cosmetic pesticide uses, and only to uses by commercial applicators – both proponents and opponents of the measure recognize its wider implications.

"I think people are fearful that a cosmetic pesticides (bylaw) may lead to taking a closer look at agricultural pesticides," said Roger Gordon, a professor at the University of PEI and a member of Pesticide Free PEI. "Personally, I think that would be a good thing to do but there are people, particularly in the corporate sector, who zealously guard their right to use pesticides."

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