Forestry Ink columnist Jim Hilton. (File Photo)

FORESTRY INK: Responsible use of herbicides

Columnist Jim Hilton writes about the issue of spraying herbicides like glyphosate

Jim Hilton

Observer Contributor

A recent article by Bill Phillips in the Prince George Daily News describes how about 50 people gathered outside the Ministry of Forests District Office in Prince George Nov. 12 to protest spraying herbicides on B.C. forests by Canfor.

The protesters are calling for an end to the decades-old practice of spraying regenerating forests with glyphosate, which kills broadleaf plants to enable quicker growth of conifers such as spruce, pine and fir trees.

Canfor is in the process of renewing its pest management plan that designates high-biodiversity, fire-resistant native tree species, including birch, cottonwood and aspen ‘pests,’ according to rally organizers. Protesters were proposing an alternative like changing the government requirement limit of deciduous stand content. The solution offered was to have five per cent deciduous in a replanted cutblock, increase that to 15 per cent,which could be done with manual brushing and sheep.

Determining harmful levels of toxic substances is complicated enough in the lab, but it becomes much more difficult when working in the field. An recent article by Matt Simmons in the Narwhal reported about some research on the long-term impacts of glyphosate on northern B.C. forests. Lisa Wood, a plant biologist, forester and assistant professor at the University of Northern British Columbia, first became interested in glyphosate as an undergraduate forestry student .While glyphosate has been shown to have toxic effects on earthworms, insects, amphibians and other aquatic species, Lisa was interested in the impacts on flowers and fungi, along with edible and medicinal plants. Even though most stands are not adjacent to human habitation, there could be significant impacts of herbicides on biodiversity of native ecosystems.

The common theme for people getting sick from herbicides seems to be the level of exposure because of certain lifestyles. Pesticide handlers are often victims, farmers and people involved with frequent applications being the most susceptible. Recreation-related activities are not immune. One study published in 1996 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that death rates attributable to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and to other cancers associated with the brain, large intestine and prostate were higher in a group of golf course superintendents compared with a control group. It is not just people that work on the golf courses with health problems, but there are some instances of golfers who have spent a lot of time on the courses who have also died immune-compromised deaths. Some golf courses have taken this study seriously and restricted the use of pesticides, and some provinces have banned “cosmetic pesticides,” used solely to improve the appearance of lawns, vegetable and ornamental gardens, cemeteries, parks and school yards.

Thousands of people have filed lawsuits against Bayer (formerly Monsanto), the company that makes Roundup, claiming it caused them to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. As pointed out in one article, despite the overwhelming evidence linking low-dose, long-term gestational exposure to pesticides being linked to disorders like Autism Spectrum Disorders, low IQ, birth defects and developmental delays, there seems to be a reluctance to make significant changes to our lifestyles.

A quick review of non-herbicide options provides some interesting natural products and inventions like “foam stream,” which is an organic foam and hot water application. While these systems are not available at a reasonable cost for the average user, hopefully in time there will be some acceptable alternatives.

Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.

READ MORE: FOREST INK: Old-growth forests under new management



editor@quesnelobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

forestry

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

There are hiking trails aplenty around Quesnel, including at the West Fraser Timber Park right inside the municipality. (Submitted Photo)
Many things to do in the Cariboo

Jim Hilton’s column from Jan. 20

(Tracey Roberts Photo)
COVID-19 rule followers are not suckers

Cassidy Dankochik’s column from the Jan. 20 paper

A dust advisory is in place for Quesnel. Residents are asked to be careful near heavy traffic areas. (File Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
Quesnel under dust advisory

High levels of dust in the air can be dangerous for people with COVID-19

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death in North Saanich likely B.C.’s first in for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Kimberly Proctor, 18, was murdered in 2010. Her family has spent many of the years since pushing for a law in her honour, that they say would help to prevent similar tragedies. (Courtesy of Jo-Anne Landolt)
Proposed law honouring murdered B.C. teen at a standstill, lacks government support

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions has concerns with involuntary detainment portion of act

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Most Read