Encinitas parks commission backs ban on glyphosate pesticide

Encinitas could ban glyphosates, a common herbicide linked to potential health problems, from being sprayed on city parks and property.

The Encinitas Parks and Recreation Commission on Oct. 20 voted 4-0 in favor of including glyphosate in the city’s do-not-use chemical list. In the next month or two, the Encinitas City Council will consider the ban.

Commissioner Elizabeth Brady said if the council adopts the measure, the Parks and Recreation department should post signs to advertise it.

“I think it would be really well received by parents of young children,” Grady said.

Glyphosate is the main active ingredient in Roundup, the world’s best-selling weed killer. The World Health Organization’s research arm recently found that the chemical is possibly carcinogenic to humans, according to the city’s staff report. Carcinogens are substances that can lead to cancer under certain circumstances and levels of exposure.

Jason La Riva, parks and beach superintendent, said the city’s integrated pest management policy states the city won’t use any possible or known carcinogens. Earlier, he stated that research has linked glyphosates to the decline in monarch butterflies.

Council in June directed city staff to develop a proposal eliminating glyphosates on city property. The Encinitas Environmental Commission also voted in support of eliminating the chemical.

The Netherlands and other countries have restricted the use of glyphosates, citing potential health impacts.

Glyphosate isn’t the first pesticide to be targeted for a ban in Encinitas.

A year ago, the Parks and Recreation department stopped using neonicotinoid insecticides on city property. Studies have implicated neonicotinoids — commonly sprayed on trees, shrubs and lawns — in the bee die-off.

Two weeks ago, the city began testing a pesticide-free area at Glen Park because of health and environmental concerns. If organically maintaining the park is deemed a success, the initiative could move to more or all city parks. But one drawback of a chemical-free approach is that it would probably be more expensive, city staff noted this summer.

Alternatives to glyphosates cost 80 percent more, but the added expense could be potentially offset, since non-glyphosate solutions have higher dilution rates and would be strategically applied.

The agenda item didn’t draw any public speakers. Commissioners John Gjata and Joseph Mosca were absent from the meeting, and one of the commission seats is vacant.

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