University of California System Halts Use of Glyphosate Herbicide

Following a student campaign against the spraying of herbicides on its campuses and three legal decisions concluding that glyphosate causes cancer, the University of California has suspended the use of Roundup and glyphosate-based herbicides on all campuses.

by Jonathan Latham, PhD

At the UC Berkeley campus, the Herbicide-Free UC students worked with the Grounds Operations Manager to pilot herbicide-free practices on two large campus spaces and nine smaller spaces during the 2018-2019 school year. After graduating, co-founder Mackenzie Feldman expanded the campaign UC-wide.

“It would be irresponsible for the University of California to not take action at this point, especially after three separate juries in the state of California have decided that Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides cause cancer,” said Feldman. She met with a UC Regent, who became interested in the issue. ”Being at the first trial, Johnson v. Monsanto, and hearing Lee Johnson’s story made me realize that I needed to expand this campaign beyond Berkeley. This work is too important not to do. If I can prevent even one groundskeeper from getting cancer and going through what Lee is going to, then I must.”

Herbicide-Free UC released the following statement:

“We are thrilled that the UC President and Regents have made the decision to ban glyphosate, but feel that there is no need to wait for more research to make the ban permanent. The science is clear: a number of the chemicals utilized by the University of California or its subcontractors pose a serious health risk to students, faculty, and staff. The University of California’s own faculty were even involved in designating many of these chemicals as dangerous. We are asking for a permanent glyphosate ban, as well as a ban on all Proposition 65 pesticides and other herbicides that cause harm to human health and the environment.”

USC Students Mackenzie Feldman and Bridget Gustafson and Hannah Haugenes maintain grounds
Mackenzie Feldman and Bridget Gustafson and Hannah Haugenes
(Photo credit: Herbicide-Free UC)

Said Herbicide-Free UC: “There are many alternatives to harmful pesticide and herbicide use. There are, of course, some costs associated with adopting organic practices. Yet, when faced with the alternatives of legal liability, and the human cost of harming members of the UC community with these practices, we think the costs of maintaining our current policies far outweigh the costs of switching to organic land management practices. We will keep working with the University of California to transition each campus to all-organic land management practices.”

The decision is effective June 1st.

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