A Marton resident says she is disappointed with the council’s decision to continue using a chemical-based herbicide for weed control.
Pam Vernon claims the council has side-stepped health concerns about the main active ingredient of Roundup – glyphosate – and instead focused on cost.
The Rangitikei District Council voted on March 26 to maintain existing methods of weed control and to formally establish no-spray lists. Residents choosing to be on the no-spray list would be responsible for the upkeep of the land. The council contracts the spraying of urban areas to Fulton Hogan.
The council requested a report on alternative methods to chemical spraying for weeds after Vernon raised her concerns around the safety of current methods in a presentation at the end of last year.
Non-chemical sprays, pastes, gas burning and hot water treatment were investigated in the report as alternative options for the treatment of weeds. The council report indicated that cost was a prohibitive factor to many alternative methods.
At the meeting Cr Cath Ash questioned the report’s indication that hot water treatments were 15 times more expensive than herbicide and suggested the council contact some providers for quotes. Ash said the council had an obligation to consider alternative methods to chemical spraying in light of research by the University of Canterbury into the risks of glyphosate and the World Health Organisation suggesting glyphosate was a potential carcinogen.
Vernon said she also had issue with the report’s conclusion on the cost of hot water treatment. She said she had contacted a provider and was told that while at the moment it would be about 10 to 15 per cent more expensive by the end of this year it would be cost comparable.
Vernon said she decided to make a presentation to the council last year after ongoing issues with spraying around her property. She said it was good to finally have a formal no-spray register, however she did not think it went far enough.
“I believe the council are not really interested in finding another option.”
Mayor Andy Watson was not available for comment but in a statement endorsed the council’s decision based on the commissioned report.
Following on from the recent update on the chemical spraying presentation made to the Rangitikei District Council forum in November 2014, and featured in the Central District Times recently, I’ve offered some thoughts on the Council process. This may be informative for some, and may also dispel some illusions about our so-called democratic processes.
When anyone presents an issue of concern at a Council forum the time limit is five minutes which includes question time, so it is really only four. Bear in mind with an issue this large this is not long. I had to condense my case to the quintessential and speak at top speed. Also bear in mind that in attending Council meetings there is little if any space for actual dialogue around issues. Five minutes is it. The process is not that people friendly (one Cr didn’t hide the fact he found the issue humorous) nor conducive to meaningful interaction or problem resolution. The Mayor, Andy Watson, allowed two questions from the Councilors … one centered around other possible alternatives. These I provided as I’d researched them. The other was not a question, rather it was to tell me that Horizons could provide the correct information about spraying parameters / guidelines / exposure etc. That completed I was duly thanked for my presentation and I sat down. I quietly whispered to a member of the Community Committee who was also there that day, asking her what happens next (quietly because you’re not supposed to be talking in there … and the Community Committee by the way, is a conduit group between community and Council). It appears that I should have asked specifically for somebody to get back to me on the issue. Since I hadn’t, that could well have been the very last I’d have heard about the issue. Now who ever would know that ‘minor’ technicality about being heard? It could have effectively disappeared into the black hole, forgotten forever. As good fortune would have it however, after I’d left and the meeting continued, Cr Sheridan voted for the matter to be put on the Agenda. It was seconded by Cr Ash. The Council was going to research other NZ Council methods of weed treatment and write a report.
Now, bear in mind here, seven or so months prior, I’d emailed Council citing the research on the health risks of using glyphosate sprays (the herbicide of choice by most councils throughout the country). This research had been dismissed as ‘unproven extrapolation’. Cr Ash, and myself, had then met with the Mayor to discuss the research and the possibility of using non chemical sprays in the urban areas. He had sent us each away to research weed control methods used by other Councils with the prospect of RDC’s possibly considering a non-chemical alternative that was cost-effective … should we find one that is. In addition, information was given regarding how to get this issue onto the agenda using Council protocols. By all appearances, to the uninitiated, a very convoluted process. Because of these prior happenings, I already had a great deal of information on other councils, so later, I emailed contact details for an Auckland contractor with a cost effective hot water treatment.
During the interim I endeavoured to email updates to the Mayor and all Councilors about the surrounding facts on this issue since four minutes had clearly not enabled me to do this. In addition I kept them up to speed with all the latest research that comes in at quite a steady pace these days. Councilors apparently, have a great deal of information to wade through I’m told, so there are seldom any responses. Not even an ’email received’ message.
Mayor, the CEO nor the Councilors (bar two) are impressed by WHO’s research, or any of the large body of research that is available on Glyphosate. Not surprising since our Government approves it, end of story. Note here, many governments have actually banned it though and France’s highest Court ruled that Monsanto (the manufacturer) has lied about Roundup’s biodegradability. Sadly, with the way Council works, there has been no opportunity for dialogue on this issue. Still, I do not believe it is rocket science. I would be placing my money on WHO, Professor Seralini’s evidence and France’s highest Court, as opposed to the wisdom of the Rangitikei District Council in Marton or the NZ government (aka corporation) that says it is GE free by the way and is not. Remember, Monsanto initially tested their lab rats for the required ninety days … not long enough for tumours to develop. Professor Seralini’s team tested them for two years… long enough to grow enormous tumours.
Why is Monsanto not now re-testing for two years themselves to prove to the public their product is safe? And why was it so difficult for Prof Seralini to even get a sample of their Glyphosate-laced GM corn to use in his research?
(Watch the Seralini video HERE or read the damning transcript). Would you buy a used car on the car salesman’s word alone? This is historically what the authorities have done with Roundup. It’s all been on Monsanto’s say so. Read more about the RDC’s decision in my next post.