Group Warns of Pesticide Dangers

Katie Erickson, Staff Writer

Parents for a Safer Environment (PfSE) spoke at the Acalanes School District meeting on April 16 in support of a policy to stop the district from spraying a harmful pesticide called Roundup on school campuses. One of the pesticides, Roundup, is a weed and grass killer that is sprayed around the campuses.The District would like to also start applying other pesticides on the District’s playing fields.

The presentation was shown during the Public Comment section of the board meeting with six speakers presented, four students and two concerned parents. Freshmen Erica Wilson and juniors Sara Becker-Mayer, GyuBin Jang, and Kelly Williams and mothers Erika Pringsheim and Susan JunFish represented PFSE and advocated against the use of the harmful pesticide.

The speakers educated the board members about pesticide toxicity, the AUHSD regulations, and the difference between the AUHSD  Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy and other school district IPM policies.

According to Susan JunFish, the director of PfSE, the students’ speeches were very effective. “I was so impressed by the  presentations tonight to the AUHSD Board and the speakers’ leadership ability.  I heard many  compliments of the performance tonight from other parents and students,” said JunFish.

Since the issue had not been on the agenda, but was discussed during the Public Comment, the board members could not debate the issue at length. However, according to JunFish, the pesticide controversy may be on the agenda in June.

“Just because a product is approved for use and regulation, does not mean that it’s safe.  The US EPA says that all pesticides have some inherent toxicity because they are designed to kill living organisms,” said Williams.

Roundup is a commonly used pesticide, but it’s most active ingredient, glyphosate, has been found to have damaging effects to human cells. According to the journal, Entropy, glyphosate causes diseases such as  gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

According to Wilson, an advocate against the pesticide, RoundUp will ultimately affect how students mature because they are still growing. “People say that it won’t effect them but it will when they are older. They won’t be able to see the effects until it is actually happening,” said Wilson.

Wilson believes it is important to make people aware of the effects of the pesticide. “If we have done research and educated everyone then the school should educate for everyone’s health because we are the future so we need to be able to be healthy,” said Wilson. Health concerns about the other pesticides the District would like to use were also discussed by the speakers.

For the celebration of Earth Day, PFSE was invited to show the community how to control pests using least toxic alternatives at John Muir Historic Foundation, Sustainable Lafayette Festival, and Wagner’s Ranch Nature Area.

Since the statements were made in the Public Comment section of the meeting, the board members could not provide comment on the issue but Superintedent Nickelson kindly informed PfSE and interns that he would let them know if the Board can fit them into the May or June agenda for discussion.