Unwelcome herbicide

Posted: Tuesday, December 10, 2002

In reference to an article in the Anchorage Daily News on Nov. 29, Trees vs. Food, I find it inconceivable that the Department of Environmental Conservation is entertaining the idea of mass spraying of herbicide as a "forestry management tool." Klukwan's desire to spray roundup on Long Island is like pouring salt in a gaping wound to the rainforests of Southeast Alaska. Some of the crown jewels of old growth forest used to live on this 12-mile island. In the last decade, Klukwan Inc. has laid waste to most of that magnificent forest by logging and exporting most of the timber overseas in the round. Now they want to spray.

Glyphosate, a major ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, is not the benign chemical that the manufacturer Monsanto, claims. It has been linked with significantly higher rates of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. It is the eighth most common cause of pesticide illness among farm workers in California. The surfactants which are the substance in Roundup that make it stick to plants have been proven toxic to fish. Studies in Canada show Roundup persisting in the environment for over a year. Not only does Roundup kill targeted plants, it also kills all of the other broadleaf plants it comes in contact with. Granted, Long Island currently is a far cry from the vast biotic community it once was, but it still contains many of the plants that existed in the understory of the great forest that once stood there. Once sprayed, Long Island will be further degraded from a wonderland of biodiversity to a sterile monoculture of "Roundup-ready" poles.

DEC would like to make broad changes in the regulations that allow aerial spraying of herbicides. Under a general permit, other applicants would be allowed to spray state and private lands. This would open the door for massive spraying of other clear cuts around the state. How are the residents of Hoonah and Kake going to feel if the large clear cuts around them get the same treatment? Is the University of Alaska going to adopt this sort of "management" for the large cuts along the coast near Yakataga? If this chemical treatment of the forest land of our state is adopted, it will add to the thousands of tons of Roundup that are dumped yearly worldwide affecting the land and water.

Clay Frick

Port Alexander

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