20 Mar LA County temporarily halts glyphosate usage and initiates a study of vegetation management
LA County is taking a small but significant step to look honestly at the science and impact of our current vegetation management by issuing a the temporary ban of the use of glyphosates – an herbicide that may present negative impacts on human, animal, and environmental health – while research can be completed to identify alternative options. Friends of Los Angeles River supports this motion, which passed on Tuesday, and we applaud the example it sets for progress in positive and responsible management practices surrounding the River.
This motion echoes our previous requests to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – the other major agency on the River in addition to County Flood Control — specifically requesting alternatives to glyphosate-based vegetation maintenance practices following vocal concerns from local residents along the River regarding the dangers related to the use of glyphosates as a herbicide.
Supervisor Shelia Kuehl – who supports our organization’s efforts to deliver environmental programming to youth in her district – introduced the motion. “In a 2015 study led by 17 experts from 11 countries, the World Health Agency’s International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that glyphosate should be classified as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans,’” said Supervisor Kuehl. “That conclusion makes it imperative that we question any long-term use of this controversial herbicide, and that’s exactly what this motion calls for.”
While this is just the initial stage, this is precisely the quiet work and important cause our elected leaders should undertake to improve public health and our natural environment. We are grateful that LA County has made this decision based off of scientific research, accurately recognizing science as a chief guidance for policy making. As a grassroots environmental organization, we agree that public health risks posed by the use of glyphosate are extremely important. With our support, we offer suggestions for points to expand.
Indeed, considering the LA County Flood Control’s broad jurisdiction over the LA River watershed, we invite the Board of Supervisors to consider this motion as an opportunity to expand the scope of the motion to the LA River watershed as a whole. The suggested scope to include only unincorporated areas under the County’s jurisdiction excludes large parts of the LA River and its tributaries, yet the herbicide is used by the Army Corps on the River, and thus the entire watershed would benefit from the motion.
Considering the regional investments we are making to restore our River for the benefit of our community’s health, the report must consider ecological health as a priority of activities affecting our urban rivers.
Moreover, we invite the Board of Supervisors to consider the impacts of glyphosates not only on public but also ecological health. Biological and ecological expertise should be applied to identify alternative methods for vegetation management, to ensure alternatives not only negate public health impacts, but are also environmentally sound. Considering the regional investments we are making to restore our River for the benefit of our community’s health, the report must consider ecological health as a priority of activities affecting our urban rivers.
The temporary halt will trigger a 30-day study of vegetation management and alternatives – trust we’ll be tracking this study and reporting back to River Stewards with updates when available.