Let’s tackle glyphosate this year


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.


Keith Chatinover

  • Absolutely untrue Mr.Chatinover. Glysophate is a wonderful herbicide used world wide and has been shown to have low toxicity to humans and both the EPA and FDA have conducted tests and find no harm from this chemical when used with the instructions on the labels. This is another alarm which is not justified. By the way DDT was banned in 1972 even though its saved millions of lives in combating Malaria and in 2006 the WHO supported its use again in indoor spraying. Its all about dosage and PPM.

  • Do don do the research please or continue the denial. Bayer that owns Monsanto just won the first step in its defense of law suits. You who pride yourself on facts and claim I am in denial on climate change should read the EPA and FDA tech sheets.

    • Sorry, Andrew, the epa is now a lobbying arm for big industry- So I don’t really trust what they say–Under the current regime, they have lost their vision of protecting the environment.
      I have read plenty of studies about this– There are weak links between the chemical alone and cancer in humans. There are stronger links for ailments like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. There are also potential negative effects on liver and kidney function. Then there are the tiny beautiful creations of “god”. All manner of creatures that are affected –So let me ask another question: have you ever met or heard of any species of any of the kingdoms of living organism’s on earth that you actually gave a rat’s butt about ?
      And somehow you think my opinion about spraying massive amounts of chemicals into the environment will change because monsanto won a preliminary law suit ? The Asbestos and tobacco industries also won early cases. How many people died because of those rulings– You and I both have grand kids — you may not care about them, but I do.

  • Ask Andrew if he would like to drink a nice frosty glass of glyphosate , if it has such low toxicity, harmless and has such benefits? It might even taste good.

    • James— like I said in my last letter to the editor about lying— you can ask andrew that question yourself–
      don’t be afraid to challenge what you know is wrong…

  • It’s great to see Mr. Chatinover addressing this. I’m excited about the prospect of cleaning up our gardening practices. Better for fish, landscapers, bees, unborn babies – pretty much everybody except the chemical companies.

  • No, the youth isn’t ready to lead.
    If you drink gasoline you’ll most likely die, same with glyphosate.
    If you work with glyphosphate every day, yes I bet you’ll have some negative, even long term effects on your body. However you’ll have the same result if you work everyday near a high voltage transformer or frequency converter.
    Banning roundup on MV will have no effect on our aquifer. That’s not how this works. Pick a different chemical or ground consumption.

    • Observe whether those applying glyphosate (or any pesticide or herbicide) to the environment are wearing hazmat-style gear.

    • With all due respect, what does this have to do with the youth not being ready to lead? Additionally, if you’re saying that glyphosate (and gasoline) are safe as long as you don’t drink an entire glass of it, I ask would you support not cleaning up an oil spill on Martha’s Vineyard, because the oil that would seep into our aquifer wouldn’t constitute the full glass of liquid?

    • Young people want a clean, safe environment. Problem is some do not care about the health of future generations. Tell us why. Short term profit? Malevolence toward others? Didn’t like science class?

  • Well it’s an apparent provocation at your previous letter to the editor.
    Oversimplification does not help your argument – oil is incredibly different than Glyphosphate. Buzzfeed might not have told you that.
    I’m not an advocate of roundup usage, I rarely use it myself. But this need to ban, restrict, and regulate is getting a bit extreme, and in this case is not going to significantly make MV a better place. If you want a realistic environmental movement on MV, look at nitrogen rich fertilizer usage near ponds and especially properties adjacent to katama bay. Then you might actually change something.

    • There are companies that rent out goats for just this, clearing undesired plant growth. Would you support a natural solution over chemicals?

    • I understand the reference. My question wasn’t about why you used the term, my question was what does my position on glyphosate have to do with the youth of this country not having the ability to be political leaders. I’m also not sure what you are inferring with the Buzzfeed reference, perhaps that young people only read Buzzfeed…? I agree completely with you on reducing nitrogen-heavy fertilizer use, as well as an overall discussion on what the landscaping industry means for our island ecosystem. But again, I’m still unsure as to your opposition to the removal of glyphosate from our shelves.

  • Cherokee Sal is 100% right. When I was a naive college student we were taught that roundup would kill anything it touched, but completely break down and be rendered harmless within two weeks time. It sounded like BS then, and completely preposterous now. I see the use of it on the island as the epitome of laziness, of course there are alternatives!! The first is good old elbow grease. Unwanted species can be pulled, cut, burned, and smothered. OF COURSE it’s harmful to humans! There’s always another way to achieve your goal, and not just blindly follow Big Ag and their sales pitches.

  • Thank you Keith Chatinover for your letter to the Editor supporting a ban on the use of glyphosate products on our beautiful island. After living on a farm that used glyphosate routinely for many years I was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. While many believe glyphosate is safe this certainly made me question that. It definitely is an easy and effective product to use but it’s safety to humans and all living things in the environment is uncertain. Like lead paint and DDT, not knowing the danger does not make it safe. I agree with Andy Caruso, Mack and the Boys and Cherokee Sal. There are other ways to accomplish the goal that are known to be safe. Once the damage has been done it’s difficult, if not impossible to reverse. Island residents need to make the common sense choices that will protect the environment for future generations.

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