Pictures accompanying spoken presentation to the Abbotsford Board of Education on June 18, 2012 (abbreviated edition).
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Ban Cosmetic Pesticides on Schoolyards
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Presentation script:
I took photographs of the labels on Roundup….The ‘guarantee’ list begins with glyphosate.  And I know the warning, “Keep out of reach of children”, means don’t let kids get hold of the container, as that would be extremely dangerous, but….., “keep out of reach of children”, should be a good warning about the lavish use of this stuff, on pretty well every school I checked.
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All those yards serve as parks, after school ends for the day.
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I gather that a City decision would not be binding on the Abbotsford School premises.
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Nonetheless, were Council to determine that such a ban was the right thing to do, that would show leadership our local Board of Education might be inclined to follow.
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I looked at about 10 school yards, this past month and get the impression from other parents that all schools in Abbotsford have been treated with the pesticide ‘Roundup.  The School Board also uses ‘Casoron’. Just today a young mother told me she was worried about what she saw at her children’s school grounds. She was assured the herbicide was “child friendly.”
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ROUNDUP IS NOT CHILD FRIENDLY!!
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I made a silent power-point showing photographs of chemical death on our parks and playgrounds – alternating with the beauty of plants we dismiss as ‘weeds’.
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Educators often speak about the astonishing increase in signs of stress that are showing up in ever younger students.  While life is complex, there is a growing awareness of how the bombardment of chemicals, all around us, can interact negatively with our overall health and well-being.
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When you watch children playing on those chemically scarred playgrounds, you usually see happy, healthy children.
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You do not see the children in hospital fighting childhood leukemia, or the the little ones gasping for air to enter their lungs because of asthma.
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Children in Abbotsford have a high incidence of asthma, something my grandson has been hospitalized with, a few times.  Is there a connection?  I believe there can easily be a connection between Roundup/Casoron on their grass, and a weakened immune system.
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Students in Abbotsford are being exposed to unnecessary hazardous chemicals on their playgrounds.  People try to fight against Roundup in many places, but the Monsanto company is very powerful. But there are many credible voices raised in alarm.
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I asked at Rona, but they no longer carry it.  The fellow I spoke with had very strong views, and expressed his approval of the decision to no longer sell it.  The labels shown in my power point are from Roundup at Canadian Tire.
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The technical arguments about the impact of Roundup are numerous, so I will not include much on that aspect, except to speak about Roundup being an organophosphate.
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Dr. Brian Upper, a vetrinarian, was one of my instructors at UCFV.  Dr. Upper, just one year out of grad school, (about 1969-70), was called to help a farmer in Rosedale, BC.  The  farmer had a heifer displaying a mysterious illness.  Then it was another heifer, and more and more.  They were all losing the strength in their hind quarters.
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BC Hydro had just conducted a controlled release on the BC Gas pipeline the previous week, but when asked about the cows – now all starting to sink helplessly onto their back haunches BC Hydro said there was nothing in the released gas that would account for this debilitating paralysis.
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Dr. Upper took samples of the grass the cattle were eating, but 5 days after the controlled release the chemicals had broken down.  Dr. Upper sent samples of the livers of the afflicted cows to a lab in BC.  They were not equipped to do the analysis, and sent it to California.  Note that these sorts of analysis are indeed complex, so glib assurances from the makers of pesticides should be viewed with healthy scepticism.
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BC Hydro was correct.  The cause of paralysis was not in the gas.  But Dr. Upper had taken note of the cannisters sitting around the pumping station.  When the results came back from California, he matched the chemicals in the cannisters to the lab report on the cow’s livers.
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The organophosphate in the lubricant used in the pipelines  was the cause of the strange paralysis in the herd of cattle. So while the BC Hydro officials were telling the truth, young Dr. Upper hadn’t yet acquired enough experience and knowledge to know the ‘right’ question to ask.  The paralysis came through the lubricant in the pipeline, not the gas flowing through the pipes.
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I spoke to Dr. Upper, who now lives in Armstrong, a few weeks ago.  If I attempt to relate too many details about ‘long axons’ and ‘nervous systems’, I will undoubtedly err, not being a vetrinarian myself.
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Dr. Upper attempted to talk to BC Hydro officials, but they denied responsibility, and refused to deal further with him, – until someone took a movie clip of the poor, suffering creatures to the TV station.  CTV aired it on the evening news and the BC Hydro officials were knocking on his door, the next Monday morning.
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It was a fine herd of cattle Dr. Upper had to euthanize, but BC Hydro paid for all of it.
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Roundup is an organophosphate.  The label shown in my power point begins with ‘glyphosate’.  I will not wade into complex chemistry, but I will tell you that Dr. Upper told me in no uncertain terms that Abbotsford should not be using Roundup on our school grounds.
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Both the City and School Board use ‘Casoron’ as well as Roundup.  A landscaper friend tells me Casoron is even more powerful, but I have not had time to research that pesticide.  Dawn, who is in charge of City grounds says they attempt to minimize the use of chemicals, and it  really does look that way to me.  I certainly commend them for this effort to keep chemical use down.  But the massive chemical burns evident on all the school grounds that I looked at, here in Abbotsford, is severe.
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The Monsanto claim that Roundup is not residual in the soil is complete nonsense.  Dawn tells me the City only needs to do ONE application per season.  A man in Mt. Lehmann keeps his roadside ditches free of weeds with one application of Roundup per season.
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Clearly the Roundup is having a powerful residual impact on the plants, the seeds, and the soil.
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I took several pesticide exams because I went into some small-scale landscaping on my own.  Pesticides kill.  That’s what ‘-cide’ means. The elements used to kill smaller life forms can and do accumulate in the environment.
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I do not advocate for a complete ban on pesticides.  I believe we still need to control ‘pests’ of all sorts, in agriculture and industry.  But we have alternative options when it comes to mere aesthetic reasons.
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Ten minutes will not permit me to expand on this subject, but WHY DO WE NEED TO KILL EVERY ‘WEED’ IN SIGHT?
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I made a silent power-point showing photographs of chemical death on our parks and playgrounds – alternating with the beauty of plants we dismiss as ‘weeds’.
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I would encourage the City to show leadership on this. Educate the public on the interdependence of all life forms.  Teach the public to understand when and where ‘weed’ eradication is warranted.  Many plants and animals have symbiotic relationships.
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Were it not for the billions of weed seeds many of our already diminishing large and small creatures would die out.
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Instead of sickening ourselves and our children, in our fight against ‘weeds’,  for purely aesthetic reasons, I want Council to lead in a healthy way.  Show us the beauty, the function, the utility of the plants we now treat as enemies.
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QUOTES:  from ‘PerkinElmer’ For the Better’, Glyphosate, [phosphonomethyl – 14C] “Glyphosate, the most commonly used herbicide in current production, is widely used to control pests in corn and soybean fields.  Little is known about the fate of glyphosate after it has entered the soil after spraying, so it – andits degradation products AMPA and glufosinate – have become compounds of interest for study.”  (Bold emphasis mine)
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Then (in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glufosinate) – “Glufosinate or its ammonium salt DL-phosphinothricin is an active ingredient in several nonselective systemic herbicides -…………………”
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“One advantage to producing Liberty Link crops is that any glyphosate resistance encountered in problematic weeds, such as rye grass, is overcome due to glufosinate having a completely different mode of action.”
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Mode of Action
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“Phosphinothricin is an glutamine synthetase inhibitor that binds to the glutamate site.  Glufosinate-treated plants die due to a buildup of ammonia and a cessation of photosynthesis due to a lack of glutamine.”
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SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL

(1) COMMENTS FROM ABBOTSFORD CITY COUNCIL:
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If time permits I want to reference some of the comments made by our Councillors and staff on Monday June 11th.
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Henry Braun spoke of his friends who told him of their young cows dying a few weeks after eating grass sprayed with herbicides. Mr. Braun said he does not allow his own cattle to graze near the fence line where neighbours have sprayed herbicide.
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Simon Gibson told us of UBC’s chief gardner who spoke in Abbotsford.  He said he uses no pesticides at all on those vast grounds.
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Bill McGregor said he thought that quite a few school districts do not use chemicals on their school grounds. I will try to find out more about that.
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That Roundup and Casoron were both used on on parks and school yards was confirmed by staff.  It was felt that Casoron, which is even stronger than Roundup could be applied during late fall to early spring.  To which I respond that children are at school, out on those grounds from early fall to early summer.  They play on those Casoron and Roundup poisoned fields all that time.   
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There can be no ‘safe time’ period to elapse from spraying to public use because here on our mild West Coast, people are out, all during all four seasons.   The School grounds become public parks in most cases, as soon as school is dismissed.
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I think it is particularly telling that the Rosedale herd of cows had to be euthanized because of the organophosphate in the BC Gas pipeline lubricant.  But just as in an Agatha Christie murder-mystery, THE KILLER HAD LEFT NO TRACE.  It took the young doctor to use his eyes to observe the cannisters sitting around, a complex lab analysis, the doctor’s tenacious pursuit of truth and justice for the farmer’s loss, and the pressure of public exposure by CTV to  bring this to a just end.
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We should not allow the glib assurances of the incredibly powerful Monsanto company to jeopardize the health of our precious little children.  Allow the edges to flourish with the beauty and diversity of ‘weeds’.
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Thanks for this opportunity to speak about my concern.
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(2) EMAILS FROM DR. BRIAN UPPER
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(a)  June 11/12
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Good Morning Gerda,
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Yes, you can use the comments in my last E mail. In your last message, I could not access your first link to Perkin Elmer but suffice it to say that more research after the release of Roundup and related products, has revealed alot.And over time more will be forthcoming. For example the original safety studies were done on glyphosate alone when several adjuvants (not tested) were in the formulation. Some of these chemicals such as the surfactant POEA (polyethoxylated tallow amine)  have proven to be even more suspect of biological damage than the glyphosate. This substance has been found to cause damage to red blood cells in humans as cited in the Sierra Club bulletin. The glyphsate itself has also been known to have lethal effects on fish, amphibians and birds. 
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One of my concerns is regarding the incomplete safety studies that were done and continue to be done on potentially harmful products. You must remember ‘thalidomide’. Recognizing that it is a completely different product, it was produced to reduce nausea (morning sickness) in the early stages of pregnancy. Studies in lab animals ‘proved’ it to be safe so it was approved in many countries for the described use. After it’s release, it was used all over the world. Six to eight months after it’s first use, new born babies all over the developed world (people from other countries luckily couldn’t afford it) showed up with missing portions of limbs. Over the world there are thousands of adults that lived there lives with deformed arms and hands because of incomplete safety testing. Once again it’s a case of live and learn but at what cost ? And are we at risk of repeating such mistakes over again.
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The tri aryl phosphate that resulted in the poisoning that occurred in 1968 did biodegrade in the soil over  7 days.When the release was done 10 years later, no harmful effects were noted to the cattle. However, we do not know if any other more subtle harm occurred. What concerns me is that the glyphosate and it’s accompanying adjuvants are sprayed onto the plants taking up to a week to show effects to the plants but yet it is still there close to where small hands and feet can poke around at it. 
It appears that the immediate ‘convenience’ is far more important to us than the concern of a potential health risk. Time, once again, will tell. 
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Cheers, 
Brian Upper 
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(b)  June 7/12
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Hello Gerda,
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Sorry, I’ve been away from home since we spoke on the phone and have just now had a chance to read your  e mails. Well done. I hope you get my reply in time as it will add to the credibility of your information and your presentation. My understanding is that people who are inclined to be skeptical about environmental concerns can pick up on emotional inuendoes and generalizations sometimes using them to discount whole areas of concern. For that reason I will give you the accurate information and will stand behind it.
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The release of the natural gas into the air (with the accompanying lubricant) from the Rosedale pumping station was done in the early fall of 1968. The lubricant contained the organophosphate ‘tri aryl phosphate’. (Although glyphosate is an organophosphate it is a different formulation than the TAP used inside the natural gas pipelines). The reason that the release was authorized by B.C. Hydro was because the manufacturer claimed it to be biodegradable. However it was later understood that this process took at least 3 and possibly 5 days to degrade completely. In the case in question, the animals were grazing in their pasture fields when the greasy droplets of lubricant rained down on them and on the grass around them.
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Of course the animals continued to graze as usual over the next few days while the TAP bioaccumulated in their livers and nerve tissues. By the time they started to show the symptoms of ‘chronic organophosphate poisoning’, (about 7 days later) the remaining TAP on the grass and in the soil had biodegraded and was undetectable on chemical tests. However the livers of the first two animals that had to be euthanized about a week later (because their hind quarters would no longer support them) contained levels of TAP that very adequately supported the diagnosis of chronic organophosphate poisoning. The results of these tests done at Berkely California Animal Pathology Lab. took another week. A phenominally quick turn around considering the complexity of the tests back then. From the time I saw the first animal showing ‘posterior ataxia’ (basically staggering on it’s back quarters) was about 3 weeks. By that time the entire herd of replacement heifers from two year olds (ready to calve) down to 8 month old calves were showing severe signs of posterior ataxia or were down, unable to stand. (all were eventually euthanized). At that time I took a film with my family movie camera of the remaining animals staggering around in the field in case evidence was needed to support the farmer in a damage claim. Someone else took another film which was shown on the CTV news two days later. Managers from BC Hydro natural gas division came to see me the next morning where previously, they had refused to return my calls. Even with the pathology report in my hand they asked if there could be some other cause.
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Gerda, it is noteworthy that about 10 years later BC Hydro needed to have a release again. The same lubricant was in the pipeline. This time,to their credit they phoned all the farmers in the area asking them to keep their animals in the barns for 7 days after the release. They ageed to compensate the farmers for the feed consumed and the labour involved. Soil and grass tests 5 days after the event could not detect the chemical so it indeed did biodegrade. Animals were put out onto the fields with no subsequent problem at all. This is a case of live and learn but unfortunately for the creatures, they didn’t live back in ’68. I have information of a case in Kansas where a herd of more than 200 adult cows endured ‘acute’ organophosphate poisoning. I say endured because of the severe pain that they all suffered over the few hours it took to die. Apparently a bag of concentrated organophosphate fly repellant was mistaken for a bag of mineral supplement and was mixed in with their normal feed. Regardless of what the manufacturer claims organophosphates should be considered poison.
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Looking at your pictures, it is evident that herbicides have been used on areas especially frequented by children such as around trees, edges of play grounds and around baseball diamonds. Given that their is much skepticism regarding safety to the younger and pregnant humans, especially considering the risk of bias where the manufacturer is responsible for testing why would any school district take a chance just to save a few hours of labour cost. How difficult is it to use a gas or electic powered weed trimmer to trim harmless weeds from the edges where the lawn mowers can’t reach. If my grandchildren were going to one of those schools, I’d be inclined do the trimming myself. 
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Sorry for the length, better send it now so you have it. All the best on your presentation.
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Please say hi to Leonora from us.   
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Warm regards,
Brian Upper