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Are you, your family, children, pets frequenting tainted parks?

In 2014, New York City sprayed Monsanto’s Roundup pesticide—now classified as a possible carcinogen by The World Health Organization—2,748 times (more than double the 2013 rate) but only 2,000 locations have been revealed through data released by NYC Parks as a result of a Freedom of Information Law request.

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From The South Bronx, to Riverdale and City Island to Pelham Parkway, many neighborhoods were sprayed with this pesticide linked to cancer. Manhattan has the least amount of sites (partly due to incomplete data from Central Park and other conservancies) but Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island have been doused with this pesticide more than our borough.

The groups, composed of Reverend Billy and The Stop Shopping Choir, Stop the Spray along with other members of the Coalition Against Poison Parks are pursuing legal action to, “…force the City to reveal all locations where it has been used.

Cause for Alarm?

Environmental groups and those apposed to GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and calling for mandatory labeling of such foods has been going back and forth on whether or not glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Roundup, causes cancer. It is also by far the largest produced pesticide in the world.

(view the map below to see where exactly Roundup has been sprayed, along with

Last year’s announcement by WHO stated, according to National Geographic:

“What the IARC performs is hazard assessment,” says Aaron Blair, who chaired the group of scientists that prepared the IARC’s assessment of glyphosate. Blair is a scientist emeritus at the National Cancer Institute. Hazard assessment, he explains, is concerned with a simple question: Could a substance cause damage “in some circumstance, at some level of exposure?” How commonly such circumstances or exposures actually occur in the real world, he says, is an entirely different question, and not one that IARC tries to answer.

In other words, the IARC is saying that glyphosate probably could cause cancer in humans, but not that it probably does.

Blair says that two types of evidence convinced the committee that the glyphosate has the potential to cause cancer. First, there were laboratory studies showing that the chemical can damage DNA and chromosomes in human cells. This type of damage can lead to the emergence of cancer. Second, Blair says, some studies showed increased rates of cancerous tumors in mice and rats that were exposed to glyphosate. These were rare forms of cancer that are unlikely to occur by themselves, adding to the evidence that glyphosate caused them.

On the other hand, studies of human health records did not turn up convincing evidence of glyphosate’s cancer-causing potential. A long-running study of farm workers, for instance, did not show higher rates of cancer among those exposed to the chemical.”

In 2008, a study published in journal American Chemical Society called, ‘Glyphosate Formulations Induce Apoptosis and Necrosis in Human Umbilical, Embryonic, and Placental Cells’ revealed that it wasn’t glyphosate alone that appeared to be harmful but also the ingredients labeled as inactive by Monsanto in Roundup in combination with it. 

The abstract of the article states that the study, which was conducted using levels of Roundup far below the recommended levels for agriculture use—and more in line to the residue one would find on foods treated with the pesticide that:

“This work clearly confirms that the adjuvants in Roundup formulations are not inert. Moreover, the proprietary mixtures available on the market could cause cell damage and even death around residual levels to be expected, especially in food and feed derived from R formulation-treated crops.”

 Clearly more research must be done to address these concerns and data but what do we do in the meantime? Do we allow NYC to continue using something which has been labeled as “possible cancer causing” and other reports linking it to cancer or do we demand the city to stop the use of this chemical immediately until further data is available?

The groups will present the map to NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver today at a meeting by The Black Institute at 2:30PM.

For more reading check out the following links provided by Reverend Billy:

Glyphosate Briefings: Reasons For Concern 

Study Says Pesticides Spur Antibiotic Resistance

Scientific American: Widely Used Herbicide Linked to Cancer

Ethoxylated adjuvants of glyphosate-based herbicides are active principles of human cell toxicity

Cytotoxic and DNA-damaging properties of glyphosate and Roundup in human-derived buccal epithelial cells. – PubMed – NCBI

The effect of glyphosate on potential pathogens and beneficial members of poultry microbiota in vitro. – PubMed – NCBI

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