I have many concerns about Klukwan Inc's plans to aerially spray herbicides on Long Island. It is a decision that fails to protect subsistence resources, endangers future generations, undermines the marketing of uncontaminated Alaska wild salmon, and sets a precedent that encourages more aerial spraying in Alaska.
Studies demonstrate that herbicides are persistent especially in cold northern climates and can cause damage to the environment and health long after application. Herbicides are associated with increased risk of miscarriages, pre-mature birth, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and nervous system disorders. Studies demonstrate that the proposed herbicides, glyphosate (Roundup) and imazapyr, can cause severe damage to forests, fish, and wildlife.
Alaska Natives are already suffering the highest cancer rates in the nation. Alaska Native women have the highest breast cancer rates of any group in the country. We must to work together to reduce cancer, not put additional carcinogens into our subsistence foods.
As a long time commercial fisherman, I am especially concerned about the use of herbicides in Alaska. Alaska fishermen have worked for years to get wild salmon labeled as organic. Last January, a study published in Science magazine confirmed the lack of contaminants in wild Alaska salmon compared to farmed salmon. When these herbicides start showing up in our fish, what will that do to our markets? Will permitting these regulations cause us to lose our Marine Stewardship Council endorsement for sustainability? Whatever minimal benefit, if any, herbicides may provide to the forest industry, it must be weighed against the potential economic disaster to Alaska fishermen.
Ultimately, Gov. Murkowski needs be held accountable for promoting this reckless policy. Every Alaskan deserves water that is pure to drink, lakes that are safe for swimming, and rivers that are teeming with uncontaminated fish. We have to act now to ensure all of our children enjoy these same gifts long into the 21st century.
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