To the Editor:
As we settle back into the swing of things, with our eyes on our upcoming town meetings, I would like to turn the Island’s attention to a pressing issue: glyphosate and other unsafe chemicals, and their pervasive use on Martha’s Vineyard.
The bottom line is that glyphosate (marketed as Roundup, among other brands) is incredibly unsafe. As to whether it causes cancer, the most generous statement is that the science is unclear. But dig a little deeper. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, many of the studies that cleared glyphosate were actually funded by Monsanto (now part of Bayer AG). And not only is glyphosate harmful when it is sprayed, it stays harmful even after it breaks down.
Drawing this back to our beautiful Island, there are many reasons that we are better off taking glyphosate products off our shelves, and finding alternatives. And that is an important first point: There are alternatives to glyphosate, including safer chemicals, natural products, and even goatscaping.
Our ecosystem, and particularly our sole-source aquifer, need constant protection and attention. We should be the ones deciding which chemicals we are using, not the Massachusetts Pesticide Board, or lobbyists who can kill any legislation on this topic. Case in point is the legislation lobbyists successfully derailed last year that could have given municipalities the authority to ban chemicals like glyphosate.
The home rule warrant articles at upcoming town meetings are seen as a positive step by a broad coalition, which includes the Edgartown board of selectmen, concerned citizens, and environmental activism groups. This push is both a common-sense measure and a necessary step to ensuring our island’s safety.
And finally, I would like the dispel the notion that we cannot move to ban glyphosate and other chemicals because everyone uses them. We once had widespread use of lead paint and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). But when we found out that they were extremely dangerous, we stopped using them. We can do the same for any of the numerous chemicals on the market now that we know are unsafe.
As a young person with a passion for keeping the Island that I love safe and habitable for generations to come, I support the home rule petitions appearing as town warrant articles this year. This is a critical first step in the process of removing glyphosate and other harmful chemicals from our Island. If your town warrant includes a home rule petition on spraying, I encourage you to vote YES.