Sackville councillors take aim at glyphosate spraying, but stop short of calling for a ban

Written by Bruce Wark on October 13, 2017

Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken answers a question on glyphosate resolution during the Sackville council meeting on Oct. 10, 2017. Photo by Bruce Wark.

Sackville Town Council passed a unanimous resolution on Oct. 10, 2017 expressing its opposition to the “indiscriminate spraying” of the herbicide glyphosate, especially in areas where municipalities get their drinking water.

The resolution also calls on the province to “closely monitor” any changes in the scientific evaluation of glyphosate as a cancer-causing agent.

However, the resolution stops short of calling for a ban on spraying glyphosate in New Brunswick Crown forests — a ban advocated by various environmental groups and a coalition known as Stop Spraying New Brunswick.

Tilting at windmills on white steeds

Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken, who wrote the resolution, said the town doesn’t have the power to ban glyphosate and since the province is unlikely to ban it soon, he suggested that calling for a ban now isn’t practical.

“That approach is more like tilting at windmills; this one, at least, raises the concerns about it and asks the province to monitor it,” Aiken said.

“We are kind of limited in what we can actually do,” he added. “It would be nice to sort of climb on our white steeds with our banners and go sailing off, but we just can’t do it.”

Aiken acknowledged that the town does have a bylaw banning the use of glyphosate, sometimes sold under the trade name Roundup as a “cosmetic” pesticide to kill weeds, but he doubted the bylaw could be enforced because the provincial Pesticides Act supersedes it.

Precautionary principle

In supporting the resolution, Councillor Megan Mitton acknowledged that the province regulates large-scale glyphosate spraying and so, it isn’t done randomly, but “indiscriminate spraying” can also occur, she said, “without careful judgment.”

She noted that an agency of the World Health Organization has classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” and so it’s important to keep monitoring further scientific studies.

“We need to use the precautionary principle,” Mitton said. “Sometimes studies and effects won’t be known until it’s too late and this has been shown with other pesticides in the past.”

Text of resolution

Here is the resolution that Sackville Town Council passed at its meeting on Tuesday. The resolution was moved by Councillor Bill Evans and seconded by Councillor Mike Tower:

WHEREAS PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT IS A FUNDAMENTAL VALUE IN CANADIAN SOCIETY AND THE SAFETY OF ALL CANADIAN COMMUNITIES DEPENDS ON A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT; AND

WHEREAS LIMITING EXPOSURE TO PESTICIDES AND HERBICIDES PROMOTES THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF CANADIANS; AND

WHEREAS OBJECTIONS HAVE BEEN RAISED BY THE CITY OF MONCTON AND VARIOUS ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS TO THE SPRAYING OF HERBICIDES CONTAINING GLYPHOSATE, ESPECIALLY IN WATERSHEDS FOR MUNICIPAL WATER SUPPLIES; AND

WHEREAS THE INTERNATIONAL AGENCY FOR RESEARCH ON CANCER OF THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION HAS CLASSIFIED GLYPHOSATE AND ITS FORMULATIONS AS “PROBABLY CARCINOGENIC”;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE COUNCIL OF THE TOWN OF SACKVILLE VOICES ITS OPPOSITION TO THE INDISCRIMINATE SPRAYING OF GLYPHOSATE AND ANY OF ITS FORMULATIONS ESPECIALLY IN WATERSHED AREAS THAT SERVICE MUNICIPAL WATER SUPPLIES, AND URGES THE PROVINCE OF NEW BRUNSWICK TO CLOSELY MONITOR CHANGES IN EVALUATIONS OF THE CARCINOGENICITY OF THIS HERBICIDE.

For an evaluation of the scientific evidence that glyphosate causes cancer, click here.

This article was first published by The Wark Times. 

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