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Don’t Be Silent This Spring

Save Bees, Say No To Pesticides

This time of year spring rushes over me, which puts a skip in my step and the anticipation of bursting flowers gives me renewed hope. I get an overwhelming desire to spend time outdoors working in my yard and watching Mother Earth explode with color.

However, my initial joy quickly diminished last month as I watched a neighbor spray his yard with a popular weed killer containing glyphosate in the hopes of achieving a perfect lawn. My heart sank.

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide for weed control. In 2015, The Journal of Experimental Biology published a study showing that the use of Roundup was inhibiting bees from finding food, resulting in starvation. Bees travel long distances for flowers that are difficult to find. This in turn handicaps their ability to feed and also pollinate. Roundup is also suspected to contribute to the declining monarch butterfly population, as it kills milkweed – which is critical to their survival.

When bees are exposed to pesticides they also carry the exposure back to the hive. Beekeepers have been observing the strange disappearance of bees since the early 1990’s. Yet many people still don’t realize how critical bees are to our food supply. No bees, no food.

In 1962 Rachel Carson released Silent Spring, which brought to light the devastating effects of the use of pesticides, in particular DDT. It led to a ban on DDT and the environmental movement began.

This April, Germany moved to restrict glyphosate from weed killers. This will end its use in household gardens and parks, and greatly reduce use in agriculture. Holland, Denmark and Sweden have already banned or restricted the chemical.

By contrast, in the United States a federal judge has temporarily barred California from requiring cancer warnings on food products that contain traces of glyphosate.

City and state governments use it in our parks and our streets to control weeds. The World Health Organization (WHO) classified glyphosate as a possible carcinogen to humans. If it is poses a possible risk to human health, what about the animals that we share this earth with that spend their lives outdoors and are exposed constantly?

What can you do? First, stop using products containing glyphosate – like Roundup. Second, contact your local governments and find out if they are using it. If so, ask them to stop.

Start your own beehive (see the next page for more on this topic). Use natural products. Sign a pledge to reduce or refuse the use of herbicides and pesticides in your yard. Welcome the dandelions. Plant a bee-friendly garden, which includes lavender, sage, sunflowers, and oregano. Accept that a yard sprayed with chemicals putting us all at risk is anything but beautiful.

You can help us all by helping our pollinating friends. Happy Spring, Park Hill.

Tracey MacDermott is chair of the board of Greater Park Hill Community, Inc. She was trained as a Climate Reality Leader in 2017.

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