Please, Please, Don’t Eat the Herbs This Year

IMG_3398
Dying cress, which was being saved for seed. And right next to bee-loved flowers.

I love sharing the herbs and vegetables that grow on the zigzag.

And a week ago, I met some tourists from Vietnam and Taiwan out there. They were very interested in local herbs. So I gave them a taster of parsley and thyme and borage and then a bundle to take away.

A bit later, I picked some greens for a family with a sick child (my zigzag vegetable growing  started to supply organic food to a mate with cancer).

A few days after that, I noticed that the Wellington City Council (WCC) contractors had sprayed:  plants were browning and shrivelling, on and off the path.

The spray was glyphosate. It disorients bees. It harms humans (see some research references at the end of this post).

The WCC apologised and affirmed that there will be no more spraying: the contractors misinterpreted the boundaries of the NO SPRAY register.

I’ve asked for confirmation that the zigzag and St Gerard’s Reserve are on the NO SPRAY register. And suggested that the WCC consider new technologies like Hotgrass for use in killing weeds.

But in the meantime, to all of you who pick herbs and cape gooseberries as you pass. It might be better not to, for a while. I don’t know how long the glyphosate lingers, even where it doesn’t kill the growing plants.

IMG_3399
Dying thyme, which had taken a while to establish

And PS: There’s a leak at the corner where the zigzag meets the path to no 12. We’ve established that it’s not from our water pipes and rung the WCC, which says it’s ‘groundwater’, even though the hillside is very dry at the moment; and the flow seems to be increasing.


A slightly random selection from a bibliography I worked on a couple of years ago, plus a couple of recent NZ articles–

Glyphosate and bees
Herbert L T,  D E Vázquez, A Arenas, W M Farina (2014) “Effects of field-realistic doses of glyphosate on honeybee appetitive behaviour” J Exp Biol. 217: 19 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.109520
Is Roundup killing our honeybees?” (2014)  NYR News 11 August
Glyphosate’s complex role in relations to humans, animals and bees
Kurenbach, Brigitta, Delphine Marjoshi, Carlos F Amábile-Cuevas, Gayle C Ferguson, William Godsoe, Paddy Gibson &  Jack A Heinemann (2015) “Sublethal exposure to commercial formulations of the herbicides dicamba, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, and glyphosate cause changes in antibiotic susceptibility in escherichia coli and salmonella enterica serovar typhimurium” MBio 6(2):e00009-15. DOI:10.1128/mBio.00009-15
Mesnage, Robin, Nicola Defarge,  Joël Spiroux de Vendômois & Gilles-Eric Séralini  (2014) “Major pesticides are more toxic to human cells than their declared active principles” Biomed Res Int.  DOI: 10.1155/2014/179691
‘Our results challenge the relevance of the acceptable daily intake for pesticides because this norm is calculated from the toxicity of the active principle alone. Chronic tests on pesticides may not reflect relevant environmental exposures if only one ingredient of these mixtures is tested alone.’
Glyphosate and humans
Guyton, Kathryn Z,  Dana Loomis, Yann Grosse, Fatiha El Ghissassi,
Lamia Benbrahim-Tallaa, Neela Guha, Chiara Scoccianti, Heidi Mattock, Kurt Straif, on behalf of the International Agency for Research on Cancer Monograph Working Group, IARC, Lyon, France (2015) “Carcinogenicity of tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate” Lancet 16:5 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(15)70134-8
Comment– This is the United Nations cancer research organisation’s report that’s often referred to.
Ho, Mae-Wan (2014) “Glyphosate/Roundup & human male infertility” Farm Wars
Seneff, S., Swanson, N. and Li, C. (2015) Aluminum and Glyphosate Can Synergistically Induce Pineal Gland Pathology: Connection to Gut Dysbiosis and Neurological Disease. Agricultural Sciences,6, 42-70. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/as.2015.61005 
Abstract Many neurological diseases, including autism, depression, dementia, anxiety disorder and Parkinson’s disease, are associated with abnormal sleep patterns, which are directly linked to pineal gland dysfunction. The pineal gland is highly susceptible to environmental toxicants. Two pervasive substances in modern industrialized nations are aluminum and glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, Roundup®. In this paper, we show how these two toxicants work synergistically to induce neurological damage.
Glyphosate in the news in NZ
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