The Board of Supervisors Wednesday paused a proposed ban on weed-killers that have been linked to certain cancers, but also voted to spend $60,000 for a pilot program to use organic alternatives on county-owned properties.
Board members voted unanimously to maintain the county policy of using the chemical glyphosate, which can be found in commercial weed-killing products, including the Roundup brand, on county properties and infrastructure.
As suggested by Supervisor Jim Desmond, board members will receive a report next year on how much it will cost farmers if a total ban is enacted.
In late February, the board directed the county’s chief administrative officer and related staff to identify a plan for organic alternatives to herbicides and come back with a report in 120 days.
Studies have found that glyphosate is linked to rare cancers, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, resulting in several major legal verdicts against manufacturers of products containing the chemical.
Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Nathan Fletcher originally proposed looking at a glyphosate ban. However, Jacob said issues arose during a review process.
“I think we need to hold off on any major changes until we know more,” Jacob said.
She added that with the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on county finances, along with how a ban might affect agricultural businesses, a slower approach was needed.
Supervisors voted after hearing from residents. As during the February hearing, ban supporters raised health and environmental concerns while those opposed said the chemical has been approved for use globally and is needed to stop invasive species that could harm native plants.
Suzanne Hume, founder of Clean Earth4Kids.org, urged supervisors to ban use of glyphosate because “our children are too important.”
Hume said she was poisoned by pesticides, and it’s traumatic to know that students may be near agricultural fields where dangerous pesticides are in use. “We need to wake up,” she said.
Hannah Gbeh, executive director of San Diego County Farm Bureau, said that glyphosate is safe to control invasive weeds and maintain roads, which in turn enables wildlife restoration and rodent control. She added that without proper vegetation management, there is a greater flood and fire risk.
“Glyphosphates have been in market for 40 years and has been extensively tested, and approved for use 160 countries,” Gbeh said.
— City News Service
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