Sackville deputy mayor urges more restrictions on glyphosate to protect health

Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken

Sackville’s Deputy Mayor is expected to propose a resolution at next week’s Town Council meeting urging the province to impose further restrictions on the herbicide glyphosate, sprayed by forestry companies to kill unwanted hardwoods and by farmers to get rid of weeds.

At Monday’s council meeting, Ron Aiken, who is a professor of biology at Mount Allison University, told fellow councillors he believes glyphosate, commonly sold under the trade name Roundup, can pose a threat to human health.

Aiken said he came to that conclusion after studying a one hundred page report from the The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which is part of the World Health Organization.

The deputy mayor noted that in 2015, the IARC reviewed more than a thousand scientific studies and found that glyphosate probably causes cancer even though the herbicide itself has low toxicity.

“If I sprayed you with glyphosate in the face right now, you’d get nose and throat and eye irritation, so it would be similar to spraying you with, I guess, lemon juice,” Aiken said.

“But the problem is, they don’t spray pure glyphosate around,” he added. “Any of these chemicals that are sprayed in agricultural fields…are a bit of a chemical cocktail.”

Precautionary principle

Aiken said that the makers of glyphosate aren’t required to say which chemicals are added to glyphosate, but some of the known ones are more toxic than the herbicide itself.

“At this point, I think it’s wise in terms of what we’ve seen historically with pesticides to go with the precautionary principle,” Aiken said, adding that if there’s a chance it causes harm, then it should be restricted.

He said his resolution supports further controls on spraying glyphosate and asks the provincial government to monitor it closely.

Aiken said it’s not known how much glyphosate gets sprayed in the Sackville area either by farmers or homeowners.

He noted that the town has a bylaw banning the use of “cosmetic” pesticides, but it couldn’t ban the sale or distribution of them.

“It’s certainly been used by individuals for spraying dandelions in sidewalks and so on,” Aiken said.

To listen to the deputy mayor’s five-minute presentation to council this week on glyphosate, click on the media player below.

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5 Responses to Sackville deputy mayor urges more restrictions on glyphosate to protect health

  1. Marika says:

    Is this one real, or is this another station on the attempt to turn Sackville into some experimental dream-like “Green Community” with no basis in reality?

    If it’s real, it’s a serious worry, as this stuff is used on “everything”.

    The thing is, it’s hard to know whom to trust any more about these things. I’m sure that Monsanto (makers of Roundup) will do anything to hide problems with it. On the other hand, I also don’t have faith in anything that comes from Sackville Town Council, as they also seem to have an underlying agenda.

    Googling around, and the science seems inconclusive. But that’s what they claimed for a long time about smoking cigarettes, too – so that’s also meaningless. Now, of course, they claim that second-hand smoke is so horrible (which I’m guessing is another claim with an agenda, and probably wildly exaggerated).

    So that’s where we are, victims of the politicization of science.

    • Les Hicks says:

      Marika, in your previous post in response to Bruce’s article about the Mi’kmaq activist, you state “As if natives don’t have bigger problems than climate change, which isn’t even real.” In your last post in response to the article about glyphospate, you state that after googling around, the science seems inconclusive. You also suggest that the scientific studies re second-hand smoke were performed with an agenda and were probably wildly exaggerated. Marika, you are indeed a victim of the politicization of science, but not in the way that you seem to think. If you were to do some serious research into the climate change issue, you would see that it is widely accepted by the majority of peer reviewed scientists that current global warming is partly due to natural cycles, but that it is indeed being greatly intensified by our use of fossil fuels from the start of the industrial revolution right up to today. The climate change issue, the pesticide issue, and the second-hand smoke issue, have all been politicized by alt right politicians who have received financial support from the respective industries, which have spent millions, if not billions of dollars to try to confuse the general public with pseudo science. Are you aware that ExxonMobil’s own studies in the 1970’s into climate change came to the conclusion that the burning of fossil fuels accelerates the process, but the corporation hid these findings from the public for decades? Do you think it is a coincidence that the U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was until very recently the CEO of ExxonMobil? Don’t take my word for any of this. I urge you to do some research and check out some news sources that aren’t controlled by multi-national corporations before you form your opinions on these and other issues. Two excellent, unbiased internet news outlets that do not accept corporate funding and instead rely on donations from the general public in order to keep operating are ‘Democracy Now’ and ‘The Real News Network’. Both of these are based in the U.S. but they cover international news as well as national American news, and they provide very detailed background information to the news stories that you will not see in the main-stream media. Please do yourself a favour and consult independent news outlets like these before making absurd statements such as ‘climate change isn’t even real.’

      • Marika says:

        Let me be a bit clearer: climate change is real, but what is unsure is how much of it is due to humans, and of that which is, how (a) significant it is and (b) how reversible or stoppable it is. It’s also unclear what effect any human-related warming may have when also considering cooling cycles.

        I just don’t know. But I’m not willing to swallow either side’s arguments whole on this.

        Here – listen to Patrick Moore, one of Greenpeace’s founders, having his own doubts:

        Pretty much everything these days is “funded” and supports an agenda, even unknowingly. Wark Times being an exception :-).

        But seriously, here, look at some details on Democracy Now:
        There’s money behind it and some solid “deep left” agendas. It isn’t really any more independent than outlets that one might qualify as ‘alt-right’ – which also have agendas and funding behind them.

        Why do such things get funding? In all cases (left or right), I suspect that it’s due to it being an expedient manner of pushing an agenda. There aren’t only oil companies out there with agendas. There are also entities like China, Russia, the Saudis and many others who engage in mercantilist economics, sometimes viewing the world through zero-sum lenses. Consequently, they may find the economic destruction of Western countries that comes from successfully pushing these types of agendas to be of benefit.

        Which is why I’m doubtful about all claims that I can’t independently verify.

        To go back to the cigarette example, it’s obvious that being a heavy smoker leads to adverse health outcomes. But what about the person who smokes a few cigarettes a month in parties (and doesn’t get addicted – which is fairly rare)? It probably doesn’t have that negative of an effect. Similarly with “second-hand” smoke, which is minute by comparison to smoking the actual cigarettes oneself. It just becomes a good way to push an agenda, because it makes for a claim of harm to uninvolved third parties. The real question, to me, is “How much harm has to result to uninvolved third parties before something becomes subject to regulation on that basis?” – in other words, there is a *small* amount of risk to others from one’s activities that *is* socially tolerable, because the price of not having this kind of tolerance is oppression of everyone. And instinctively, everyone pretty much agrees with this, hence the quest for “research” that supports various agendas. Note, for example, how it’s not popular to find that smoking marijuana has negative health effects due to the generally inhaled particles (similarly to cigarettes, and having nothing to do with THC). But common sense says that smoking *anything* is likely to be bad for health, whether it be cigarettes, marijuana, or dried vegetables, just because you’re taking in lots of smoke and residues. So why do cigarettes get singled out in such research and not other smokables?

  2. Rima Azar says:

    Dear Marika:

    Now you make much more sense (at least to my own sense :). Plus, the video link you have shared is very interesting, to say the least. One must keep on being critical for sure with everything in life and always try to see the other side(s) of the picture. For this, thank you for this comment.

    Once again, I thank you Mr. Bruce Wark/the New Warktimes for giving us, Sackville citizens, a forum to share our (sometimes divergent) opinions. We learn something new from each article and each comment– whether by someone you have interviewed or in the posted comments (I also enjoyed reading you Les Hicks).

  3. Margo Sheppard says:

    In public debates on the merits of industries, substances and in this case an herbicide, there frequently seem, at least initially, that there are studies on ‘both sides.’ However as was the case in the fracking debate, over time the studies undertaken begin to replicate one another in terms of outcome. In other words, the weight of the evidence shifts onto one side. In the fracking file, cases showing confirmed water contamination and air pollution started outweighing the economic arguments and industry studies showing how wonderful fracking was. Respected individuals like CMOH Dr. Eilish Cleary and Dr. John Cherry from the Groundwater Dept of the University of Waterloo started questioning the merits of the practice and expressing their doubts. Then the dialogue shifted from “this is the best thing for NB” to “if it’s not going to improve the people’s health or environment, why would you do it?” And lo and behold, next thing you know exploration is cancelled due to ‘market conditions’ and a moratorium is in place. Which is something that could have been predicted by anyone who knows anything about the environment. There is no free lunch. Currently we are living beyond our means and are going very soon to have to pay for our extravagances. To argue against climate change’s inevitability is to argue against physics. In the words of Barbara Kingsolver, this won’t end well.

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