Issue

  • Synthetic herbicides and pesticides are used all around Sonoma County, from our schools and parks, to our open spaces and waterways. One of the most recognized ingredients in these synthetic weed and pest management tools is glyphosate, a pesticide with increasing evidence linking it to  birth defects, liver and kidney disease, endocrine system disorders, microbiome disruptions, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Glyphosate does not break down quickly into safe components and ends up in our lakes and streams, rain and snowmelt and even our urine.
  • County of Sonoma alone sprayed over 3,800 gallons of glyphosate-based pesticides in public spaces in 2015.

Why now

  • In a very exciting victory on July 7th, 2017, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard officially listed glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller, as a chemical known to cause cancer under the state’s Proposition 65 law.
  • This is a significant blow to Monsanto, amplifying the fact that Monsanto lost their lawsuit against this labeling in March of 2017. Monsanto will now be required to label their glyphosate-based products as containing probable carcinogens. A first step towards consumer awareness and now it’s up to us to implement safe alternatives.
  • This is why we must move now to eliminate glyphosate and other harmful synthetic herbicides and pesticides from our public spaces and schools. The disproportional effect on our workers, landscape managers, youth and soil is unacceptable as there are safe alternatives available and already in use. With some of the highest childhood cancer rates in California, ranking fourth in the state according to the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health, the time is now to take action.

What next

  • We are working with the City of Santa Rosa, the County of Sonoma and Regional Parks to find safe alternatives to these harmful chemicals. Marin County has already set a great example, eliminating their use of glyphosate and rodenticides completely on the 126 sites they manage, instead switching to a combination of organic alternatives, volunteer Adopt-a-Park programs, improved landscape design, increased mulching, compost teas and other safe alternatives.

What we want

  • The use of synthetic herbicides and pesticides is managed Integrated Pest Management Plans (IPMs). We are working with elected officials, department heads and staff to update their Integrated Pest Management Plans to include a list of allowable products which are safe for our community, workers and environment. We will help create monitoring and enforcement plans and encourage thorough training for parks and landscape staff to ensure appropriate use of these tools.

What you can do

  • The first step to to eliminate the use of synthetic herbicides and pesticides from your home use and talk to your neighbors about doing the same.
  • If you are interested in joining our coalition, please email scca@conservationaction.org. We are happy to work with any municipality wanting to make these changes and ultimately would like to see all cities in Sonoma County change to safe, organic alternatives.
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