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Maps Reveal Glyphosate Use in Parks

The red areas indicate the use of herbicides containing glyphosate in New York City parks. (
The red areas indicate the use of herbicides containing glyphosate in New York City parks. (
May 24, 2016

NEW YORK - An interactive, online map could tell you if you're living near a public park where an herbicide that may cause cancer is being used.

The map is the work of Reverend Billy and The Stop Shopping Choir, a group that calls itself an "anti-consumerist, direct action" organization.

It's mapping the use of Monsanto's Roundup, the trademarked name for an herbicide with glyphosate as a key ingredient in cities across the country.

Savitri D, director of the group, says glyphosate, which has been linked to a number of serious health problems, is commonly used in New York's public parks.

"The City of New York used it at least 3,000 times in 2014 and we're still waiting for more data from the largest parks in the city," she says. "Prospect Park, Central Park and the privatized parks have not released their data to us yet."

Monsanto says glyphosate is safe for human use and has been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as "practically non-toxic."

But according to Savitri D, studies have linked glyphosate to cancer, birth defects, allergies, asthma and other health problems.

"It is a known toxin and so, the City of New York has to report it to the Department of Health, which already tells you something about its danger," she says. "It's not just like a benign substance that we spray."

The group has also prepared interactive maps of glyphosate use in parks in San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Philadelphia, as well as in schoolyards and ball fields in California.

She notes that most people aren't even aware that such herbicides are being sprayed in their public parks.

"When we spray chemicals on the root system of a tree, we don't see that," she says. "So, it's part of our mission to make those things visible, make that problem and that tension visible to people."

She says the collection of maps will continue to expand as The Stop Shopping Choir collects data from more cities and national parks around the country.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY