Deciduous trees in B.C. are more fire resistant than more commercially valuable conifers. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

RDCK wants province to ban herbicide glyphosate

Board resolution cites wildfire and health reasons

The Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) wants the provincial government to ban a controversial herbicide until it has done a thorough scientific and legal study of its safety.

“Regional districts do not have the ability to actually ban glyphosate,” RDCK board chair Aimee Watson told the Star.

The RDCK board has voted to take a resolution to the annual conference of the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) in September. If it passes a vote there, the UBCM will lobby the government for a glyphosate study and perhaps a ban.

Watson said glyphosate, the primary ingredient in the weed-killer Roundup, presents both a human health risk and a wildfire risk.

Wildfire risk

In B.C., the forest ministry uses glyphosate is used to kill deciduous trees like aspen and birch because they compete with marketable coniferous trees like pine and fir. The catch is that deciduous trees are relatively fire resistant and thereby provide a natural defence against wildfire.

Last year the ministry treated about 12,000 hectares of forest with the chemical.

Prince George-Mackenzie Liberal MLA Mike Morris is currently preparing a private members bill to ban the use of glyphosate in B.C. forests.

Health risk

Although Health Canada has recently reviewed glyphosate and pronounced it is safe as long as it is properly used and labelled, the World Health Organization has said it is “probably carcinogenic.”

A number of European countries are considering banning it, and several court decisions in the U.S. have awarded large settlements to people claiming glyphosate caused their cancer, and many more court cases are pending.

“I think liability is a huge issue when you see $2 billion dollars being awarded to individuals that have acquired non-Hodgkins lymphoma from using this product,” Watson said. “That is a major red flag in terms of liability.”

CBC reported in March that in 2018, Roundup’s then manufacturer Monsanto had hired a public relations company to create false scientific studies and one-sided expert panels to declare that Roundup is safe.

Related:

• Health Canada upholds decision to keep glyphosate products on the market

• B.C. forest ministry cutting back on use of herbicide glyphosate

• Ingredient in popular weed killer could be cancerous

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