Environment featured

News brief: Maine on the verge of banning aerial spraying of glyphosate

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Maine, Nova Scotia’s southern neighbour, is set to ban the aerial spraying of herbicides such as glyphosate.

The bill, which was approved by the Maine Senate on Monday, would stop the aerial spraying of glyphosate and other synthetic herbicides as a forest management strategy. Glyphosate kills hardwood growth, eliminating a competitor of the softwood that forestry companies favour.

Concerns of the lawmakers centred around unwanted effects on human health and the forests’ ecosystem.

Scientists are divided on whether the herbicide is safe and many of its long term effects on woodlands, soils and animals remain unknown.

Glyphosate was found to be “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015. A report by the British Soil Association suggests that in terms of glyphosate’s impact on soil ecosystems we know very little.

Critics have also argued that herbicide spraying supports an approach to forestry that is fundamentally flawed in that it reduces ecological diversity and stability and thus increases vulnerability to the effects of climate change.

See also: Northern Pulp’s proposed glyphosate spraying, not just bad for your health

Last year opponents of the forestry use of herbicides in the Annapolis Valley camped out in areas marked for aerial spraying. 

Opponents of spraying have long argued that the spraying program is not really necessary. All it does is save a handful of forestry companies a bit of money by making clearcutting more efficient. Clearcutting doesn’t generate the kinds and numbers of jobs sustainable forestry management practices provide.  

It is important to note that the Maine legislation is limited to the aerial application of herbicides. As well, Democratic Governor Janet Mills has 10 days to sign the bill, veto it or allow it to become a law without signature.

See also: Letter: Towards a forestry that restores nature, stores carbon and creates jobs

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