Poison Threatens Campus

Grace Deskin, Staff Writer

The Acalanes Union High School District plans to use pesticides on all of its campuses.  These pesticides could be very harmful to people, and something needs to be done to stop their use.

Parents For a Safer Environment (PFSE) is an organization made up of Lamorinda parents and students who aim to keep the community safe.  It lobbied against the use of the pesticide product Roundup at the Acalanes school board meetings on April 16 and May 21.

According to Erica Wilson, a participant in PFSE, an organic pesticide was previously used by the district, but because it is so expensive, the school board suggested using  Roundup, a different brand.

According to the news website Prison Planet, one of the key ingredients in Roundup, glyphosate, is a significant factor in the development of chronic diseases and other negative health conditions after long term exposure.

According to a report done by The Huffington Post, conditions include infertility, cancer, gastrointestinal diseases, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is the 14th leading cause of death in America, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to BBC News, in 2009 a French court found that Roundup’s manufacturer, Monsanto, was guilty of lying about the product. Despite Monsanto’s claims that Roundup is biodegradable, environmentally friendly, and harmless to humans and animals, it was found to be harmful to bacteria that helps animals.

Roundup may protect our plants and gardens from insects and weeds; however, the effects on people seem too dangerous.

We need an alternative to Roundup.  There are natural chemical solutions, nontoxic plant-derived products, and for most organic products, the cost is similar to synthetic pesticides, according to a pest control store, Do Your Own Pest Control.

According to The Houston Chronicle, neem is a botanical pesticide that is derived from the Neem tree. Its use in the United States is relatively new, but it has been used for over 4,000 years in India and Africa for safe, nontoxic pest control.  Pyrethrum is the most widely used botanical pesticide in the United States.  It is highly dangerous for insects at a low concentration, and Pyrethrum is the safest insecticide in use. Pyrethrum ranges in price, but can be bought at relatively cheap prices, according to Do Your Own Pest Control.

We hear the term “safe place” used frequently by school staff in regard to creating an environment where students are emotionally “safe” or “safe” from discrimination, or even “safe” from acts of violence.  It’s hard to believe our district wouldn’t consider keeping its students safe from harmful poison an equally high priority.