If you live in Marin County or the greater San Francisco Bay Area, chances are you’ve already heard the news that Marin officials have confessed to breaking their own pesticide laws an estimated 90 times over the past decade by spraying public areas with forbidden carcinogenic herbicides. Citizens are frightened and outraged regarding the unlawful exposure they have suffered in their parks and public places. Marin County is waking up to a new day – a day in which toxic trespass has become a reality to confront, in all its forms. But do you know how to recognize herbicide use where you live? This article will teach you.
The above image was captured from a Google Maps’ streetview shot of Hwy 101 near Novato in Marin County. Take a close look at the margin of the road and you will see the telltale strip of dead and dying plants right next to living green plants. This is the result of spray trucks, primarily driven by CalTrans, driving along the freeway spraying herbicides. They do so on both sides of the freeway and in medians as well.
It may be that you’ve never really noticed the sickly brown strip. Or if you have, maybe you’ve absently wondered if the absence of green growth on the road margins might be caused by cars straying outside the lines and running over the plants. Or, maybe some type of giant weedwhacker was keeping the plants short?
Now you know the truth. The dying strip is caused by poisons being sprayed. These poisons are extremely dangerous to humans and animals. To see CalTrans trucks spraying Bay Area roads you drive, look at these photographs.
As I understand it, CalTrans sprays the roads every year with a pre-emergent herbicide and then continues spraying with RoundUp once weeds emerge. Yes, I know…why would they need to spray RoundUp if they have already sprayed a pre-emergent chemical that is supposed to prevent plants from growing? Doesn’t make sense, right? But, as you can imagine, it makes plenty of money for CalTrans and the herbicide manufacturers.
Nature’s rules are that grasses and other plants sprout at different times and grow to their full heights on their own schedules. By spraying over and over again, herbicide users are attempting to combat what nature intends as the various plants we often generically term ‘weeds’ spring to life. It’s not only a losing battle for herbicide users, it’s a self-defeating one. Spraying a patch of mixed greens with an herbicide will generally work for a given amount of time until Nature rushes to defend its dictates that we live on a green planet and enables the plants that are under attack to develop resistance to the chemicals. When herbicide-resistant plants emerge, the herbicide manufacturers respond by creating new herbicides. It’s a never-ending, unsustainable struggle against our planet’s natural laws, and in the undereducated process of attempting to control the lives of plants, Marin County is endangering the lives of its citizens.
Are Herbicides Dangerous To You?
In a word, yes. The various herbicides in use in California, and around the world, cause damage to the nervous system and major organs. Whether it’s your son’s asthma or your mother’s cancer, herbicides may be the well-hidden culprit that is robbing you and your loved ones of health and life. The page of photos I’ve linked to of CalTrans workers spraying offers several toxicology sheets on commonly-used herbicides and they represent a start to your education about the toxins your city managers, state agencies and so-called integrated pest management organizations are polluting your body and environment with.
And it isn’t just officials that are subjecting you to this unwanted barrage of carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and mutagens. It’s your neighbors. Maybe it’s even you! Monsanto and their toxic cohorts have marketed both herbicides and pesticides as safe for home use aggressively enough that Americans believe it and chances are, even if you don’t have a bottle of RoundUp in your garage, one of your neighbors does.
Just as our Google Maps image from Hwy 101 illustrates, dead patches in winter and springtime in your neighborhood are generally an indication that Roundup or another herbicide has been used. Look in parks, shopping center parking lots and around public buildings. Like me, once you know what the signs are, you will begin to see them everywhere.
Is Your City Trying To Kill You?
I don’t blame you if you wonder this, but the sad fact of the matter is, your city and state officials have likely been duped, just as many Americans have, into believing that chemicals are the solution to plants and bugs we’re not happy with. Pesticide and herbicide manufacturers spend billions of dollars in marketing themselves every year and the sole point of that marketing is to persuade individuals and organizations to buy their products. They will lie to achieve this aim and they will take the chance of lawsuits because they can afford them, win or lose. While the recent news about Marin violating its own pesticide/herbicide laws is a case of officials doing exactly what they’ve been told not to, most cases of pesticide/herbicide use are the result of workers simply carrying out the tasks they have been told to do.
The families of Marin officials have been damaged by the massive use of both allowed and prohibited toxic sprays just as have the families of private citizens. CalTrans workers have been horrifically sickened and come forward to talk about the permanent harms they’ve suffered as a result of being ordered to spray chemicals for a living. Countless workers in California’s alcohol fields are sickened every year from being ordered to spray herbicides and pesticides. The epidemics or autoimmune disease, mutliple chemical sensitivites, autism and other destructive malfunctions of the human body’s normal processes that we are witnessing in California may be traced back to the ingredients in the chemicals we are spraying every day, across our state, as being known to cause these exact types of physical and psychological damage. And in Marin County, with it’s #1 cancer rate in the nation, we may look for our hidden enemy in the tons of carcinogenic chemicals that are being poured on the lands and on the people.
Blood money and corruption of politicians most certainly do play a role in America’s current chemical addiction, but I see lack of education as the key culprit, creating a situation in which local city officials step into office and are told that, “In Marin, we control weeds with herbicides,” and those officials do not have the superior education to realize that statement equates with, “In Marin, we are sickening and killing our people.”
Officials are in desperate need of this education, as are citizens.
We’re Dying Because Of Our Chemicals, But Can We Live Without Them?
The chief reason given by city officials for herbicide use along roadsides is, somewhat ironically, protecting public safety. It is certainly true that some plants can grow tall enough to obstruct views and make driving conditions hazardous. But, in the light of the dawning 21st century, educated people are realizing that trading off one hazard for another is not a sustainable approach to problem solving. In the case of our major roads, we must demand a non-toxic solution that will make driving safer on our thousands of miles of highways. Here are three completely sensible options:
1. Get Planting. Marin County, and any other county in the state, could take the vast sums of money they have previously invested in herbicides and spray trucks and invest it in landscapers who could plant our highway margins with dense growing native groundcover plants that, with some periodic maintenance, would choke out the taller, unwanted plants. Lush borders of low-growing plants would not only make our highways more beautiful, they would decrease pollution and fight global warming. These native green borders would, of course, need to be smog-tolerant, drought-tolerant and organically grown. Imagine if each county got to pick its own area-appropriate groundcover and a drive on the highways from Northern to Southern California was transformed into a proud display of each region’s finest native groundcover plant. It would put our state on the map as truly forward-thinking and green-minded. This is my favorite solution.
2. Take that herbicide money and put it toward a ready-made manufactured product like Universal Weed Cover – a man-made, non-toxic weed barrier that is already in use along hundreds of miles of US highways. If other regions are using it, why not Marin County? A one time investment in this would save the county from those costly annual herbicide fees for a long, long time.
3. Keep the same workers in business who have been paid to spray Marin County, but instead of spray trucks give them Highway Weed Mowers. It looks like there are plenty of them to choose from.
All three of these choices would put a powerful end to the use of deadly herbicides on Marin’s roadways, and similar solutions are within easy reach for all other situations in which herbicides are currently being used. Money taken away from herbicide manufacturers and granted to public education programs that retrain the dangerous, unnatural learned aesthetics of a society which has come to view dandelions in a lawn as a threat would be money well spent. And, where plant control or removal is a must, manual labor is at all of our fingertips. City workers will experience far better health pulling weeds instead of being engulfed in poison while spraying them. Manual labor of this kind will offer fresh air and exercise to the worker rather than dooming him to chronic disease.
We Can Learn New Behaviors
This article has taught you how to recognize the visual signs of herbicide use where you live. You now have this knowledge, and there is one fact of life that I would like you to take along with it.
When you begin to notice and reflect on the brown dying strip along the roads you drive, remember that it is not merely an image of dead weeds. It is the visible sign of a poisoned environment – an environment in which you live – just like the grasses and plants that have been overpowered with chemicals. Life is life, whether it is in plants or people, and where life cannot exist for plants, the environment is also unfit for humans.
In our chemical addiction, we have created a place that is unfit for us to inhabit in good health. It is unfit for us, for the birds, the mammals, the amphibians and fish. The dying weeds on the highway are bold road signs reading Danger. Look at the signs and determine within yourself what you want to do about them.
We have the power to learn new behaviors. Perhaps the discovery of the illegal spraying of Marin will be the horrific event that causes Marin’s people to decide that they have had enough of lies, enough of irresponsibility, enough of cancer and disease. I cannot imagine anything more important for local people to be thinking of right now. What do you say?