NYC Students Tell City to Ban Toxic Pesticides


Adapted from a post by EarthShare member Beyond Pesticides

New York City passed a pesticide reduction policy in 2005, but the law has not done enough to stop the use of toxic chemicals like glyphosate (Roundup) that endanger human health.

In 2014, NYC Public School teacher Paula Rogovin’s kindergarten class at PS 290, after learning about the dangers of chemical pesticides, wrote their Councilmember Ben Kallos, asking him to “Make a Law!” and stop the use of harmful insecticides and herbicides in city parks and public spaces. And Councilmember Kallos did just that by introducing a bill called “Intro 800” in 2015.

However, that law still needs support to pass through the NYC Committee on Health, so Rogovin’s class took action in October and performed a skit in front of the committee.

“We’re going to make a great big fuss,” said the children, who showed up with chants and signs. Student Jesse Balsam summed up the core importance of Intro 800. “I think this is a good law that should pass, because pesticides are bad for people,” the student told CBS New York.

The current law encourages city agencies to use less toxic products in and around structures and green spaces owned by the city. The law also requires the city to record and report their pesticide use.

Intro 800 would go even further, limiting the use of pesticides on New York City property to only biological-based pesticides. New York City has been using more of the weedkiller glyphosate (Roundup) in recent years and the kids want it to stop.

“The World Health Organization found that [glyphosate] was a carcinogen, so we introduced legislation right away,” Councilmember Kallos said in an interview with CBS New York.

Glyphosate comprises over 50% of pesticide use by city agencies. In 2016, glyphosate was applied over 1,000 times by the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation.

Beyond Pesticides provided testimony in support of Intro 800, and suggested some amendments that would provide additional tools for landscapers to achieve goals in NYC parks without sacrificing public health.

Items on Beyond Pesticides’ Organic Compatible Product List, for example, are approved by the independent stakeholder National Organic Standards Board and are reviewed for their safety for organic lawn care.

Intro 800 is critical to the protection of community health, particularly children, elderly, and vulnerable population groups that suffer from compromised immune and neurological systems, cancer, reproductive problems, respiratory illness and asthma, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and learning disabilities.

Councilmember Kallos told CBS New York that he hopes to pass the legislation by year end. If you live in NYC and would like to show your support to your City Councilmember and urge them to pass Intro 800, go here to send them a letter, and consider following up with a phone call.

And for more information on the hazards of glyphosate use and how you can take action in your own community, visit Beyond Pesticides.


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