While strolling through Central Park last spring, I was delighted by the serene water of Turtle Pond, long stretches of trees arching over the cool March day and overcome by one of America’s most famous and treasured public spaces.
Looking back on that experience is a different story.
I have no recollection of any signs or pamphlets warning me that I was walking over hoards of one of the most toxic herbicides on the market. Central Park is coated with Roundup, a weed-killer sold by the infamous biotech company Monsanto. Monsanto is the same company that refused to safely label GMO products, brought us GMO corn — a product known to cause organ failure, tumors and premature death in rats — and infused common household foods with untested and unsafe chemicals.
Studies have linked Roundup to Parkinson’s Disease and cancer. It’s been shown to kill human cells and is the third leading cause of reported illness among agricultural workers. It’s also NYC’s most popular herbicide, with 500 gallons of Roundup administered across the state in 2011. Picnickers, children at play and tourists are all exposed to Central Park’s Roundup-covered grounds. Park goers usually aren’t aware of the cancer-causing herbicide because, just like me, a stroll through the park didn’t offer any clear indications that a lethal herbicide ruled the soil.
Monsanto advertises Roundup as a safe and effective weed-killer, but this simply translates to: Roundup’s overuse kills weeds too effectively, creating pesticide-resistant and highly invasive superweeds. The herbicide doesn’t do wonders for the environment, either. Damaging plant DNA, causing animal deformities and offering high toxicity levels to both birds and insects are all in the fine print of Roundup’s impressive resume.
Corn fields drenched in Roundup already spark controversy among scientists, critics and environmentalists. But, government and privately-owned agricultural spaces are markedly different from public spaces like Central Park — where Roundup is still being quietly applied.
Photo Credit: Photodisc