From ELAINE KALANTARIAN
We all have a right to clean air, water and soil. The Mendocino Redwood Company, owned by the billionaire Fisher family — owners and founders of The Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime and Athleta — currently applies TWO TONS of the highly concentrated, broad-spectrum herbicide imazapyr EVERY YEAR here in Mendocino County to kill tanoak, madrone and other hardwood trees that are not as commercially valuable as redwood and Douglas fir.
Tanoak, and other less lucrative hardwoods, are extremely valuable food source trees for wildlife, important succession trees for forest recovery after logging, and a valuable source for carbon-neutral heating: firewood. MRC claims it is not “cost-effective” to manually remove these unwanted trees and must use herbicides. They have determined it is better to poison our environment than to do the right thing. In spite of this they are still “certified green” by an entity called the Forest Stewardship Council. Imazapyr has been banned in the European Union since 2003.
According to the Journal of Pesticide Reform: “Adverse effects found in laboratory animals after chronic exposure to imazapyr include the following: fluid accumulation in the lungs of female mice, kidney cysts in male mice, abnormal blood formation in the spleen of female rats, an increase in the number of brain and thyroid cancers in male rats, and an increase in the number of tumors and cancers of the adrenal gland in female rats.”
Imazapyr has been found to persist in the soil for at least a year (the extent of the studies), doesn’t politely stay put, but readily moves through soil, and there is documented proof that it has contaminated surface and ground water following both aerial and ground forestry applications (including hack-and-squirt). And imagine what might be in the smoke produced when one of these dead zones burns in a forest fire. MRC treats, on average, an area equivalent to OVER 4,000 football fields EVERY YEAR.
The other major concern is imazapyr’s breakdown products. When the chemical is exposed to light, it transforms into quinolinic acid which is irritating to the eyes, the respiratory system, and the skin. It is also a known neurotoxin that can cause nerve lesions and symptoms similar to Huntington’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that affects muscle coordination and leads to cognitive decline and psychiatric problems.
Please join with us here in Mendocino county stop this irresponsible degradation of our forests, soils and precious water supplies. Imazapyr, by the way, is not just used in my backyard, it is a US-EPA approved herbicide. Anyone with 80 bucks can buy a big jug of this stuff on Amazon and start spraying it all over their backyard. Your neighbor perhaps.
For more information on MRC and imazapyr, here’s a compilation page that references a variety of information, studies and opinions: http://mk.users.sonic.net/2012/07/mrc-and-imazapyr/
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