Thanks to the work of activists concerned about the City's spraying of chemicals in New York City neighborhoods, now we know 2,000 locations where in 2014 the Department of Parks and Recreation sprayed glyphosate-containing herbicides, such as Roundup, many times without notifying the public.
In a cold and driving rain last Tuesday, a few dozen members of the newly formed Coalition Against Poison Parks gathered to protest the Parks Department's spraying of Monsanto's Roundup. The gathering took place in front of the New York City Parks Department's headquarters, called the "Arsenal" in Central Park.
The Coalition is the brainchild of New York newcomer Krista Carter, who moved to the City from North Carolina to organize against pesticides with the Black Institute, headed by former ACORN director Bertha Lewis. WBAI radio’s Mitchel Cohen, who also coordinates the No Spray Coalition against pesticides, issued this report:
After the protest, the Coalition Against Poison Parks, which includes The Black Institute, Reverend Billy's Church of Stop Shopping Choir, No Spray Coalition, NYCLASS, Millions Against Monsanto and others, delivered an interactive map to Parks officials showing where New York City sprayed Roundup in 2014. According to the map, which can be found at www.revbilly.com/map, locations include areas in or near parks, playgrounds, schools, libraries—residential areas. Application amounts were from two to 20 liters. In some cases there was prior warning given; in other cases no warning was given.
The data, acquired from Parks through a Freedom of Information request, shows over 2,000 applications; and that's without data from Central Park and other sites managed by non-profit conservancies, which have not been made available. According to "Pesticide Use by New York City Agencies in 2014," published by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), there were 2,748 applications of glyphosate in 2014.
The key ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate is present in hundreds of products and is, according to the World Health Organization, a probable carcinogen. It has been implicated in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, birth defects, and more. Last year the Natural Resources Defense Council sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its failure to investigate glyphosate's role in the destruction of the monarch butterfly population.
After a report in Civil Eats, on Thursday the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed that it would begin testing for residue of glyphosate on agricultural products produced in the United States, something it has been criticized for not doing sooner.
On Tuesday, the Coalition Against Poison Parks called for greater transparency in alerting the public to the use of dangerous chemicals like Roundup. Meanwhile, Liam Kavanagh, Deputy Commissioner of the NYC Parks Dept. stated that the City would continue to use glyphosate unless it was banned by the EPA or the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, "because it is cost effective." Joel Kupferman, an attorney with the NY Environmental Law and Justice Project, pointed out that if the City would factor in all the health and environmental horrors caused by the chemical, including to the City's own workers and to the groundwater, it is not cost effective and is additionally extremely dangerous.