Encinitas goes glyphosate free

ENCINITAS — Encinitas has given a unanimous thumbs down to Roundup, as the City Council voted to eliminate the use of weed killers that use the main chemical in the aforementioned herbicide.

The council’s vote will remove glyphosate from the city’s Integrated Pest Management plan. The California Environmental Protection Agency recently issued a preliminary determination that the chemical will be listed as a possible carcinogen under the state Proposition 65, which, among other things, requires warning labels on consumer products that contain cancer-causing chemicals.

Encinitas parks and recreation officials estimate that it will cost $3,000 to $4,000 more annually to use alternative weed-killing products instead of Roundup, but officials said the cost was minuscule compared to the public benefit.

“$3,000 to $4,000 is nothing,” Deputy Mayor Catherine Blakespear said. “Especially when the parks department reported a budget $330,000 surplus earlier this evening.”

The Council’s vote comes a week after the city Parks and Recreation Commission unanimously endorsed the glyphosate ban. Both meetings attracted no public objection to the measure, and two people spoke in favor of it Wednesday night.

James McDonald, a local beekeeper, said the city’s action has an ancillary benefit of assisting the fragile bee population, which has been dying off in record numbers in recent years. Many beekeepers have suspected that chemicals such as glyphosate have played a role in the so-called “Colony Collapse Disorder.”

“The EPA’s determination that glyphosate is a carcinogen has given beekeepers this huge sense of vindication. We have been saying it all along,” McDonald said. “Bees are the canary in the coal mine. What’s killing them is killing us, too.”

The city’s action is the second in recent months to eliminate synthetic pesticides and herbicides from its operations. In September, the city unanimously approved a pilot program at Glen Park to use only organic materials in weed and pest control.

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