Island resident continues to get signatures on petition banning use of Garlon

SPRING BAY—While an Island resident is still collecting signatures for a petition to be presented to Central Manitoulin council to gauge the concern of local residents on its use as a method of spraying used by Hydro One to remove trees and shrubs, comes news of a lawsuit and judicial decision made in the US ordering Monsanto to pay $289 million as a jury ruled the weed killer caused a man’s cancer. 

“There was a case in the US where a civil action was taken against Monsanto—the manufacturer of Roundup for punitive damages on behalf of an individual who got cancer because he delivered Roundup as a spray technician multiple times a year,” stated Paul Darlaston, a Kagawong resident. 

A jury ruled that Monsanto was liable for a terminally ill man’s cancer, awarding him $289 million in damages. Dewayne Johnson, a 46-year-old groundskeeper, won the huge victory in the landmark case on August 10 in San Francisco, with the jury determining that Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer caused his cancer and that the corporation failed to warn him of the health hazards from exposure. The jury further found that Monsanto, “acted with malice or oppression,” reported The Guardian.

The Johnson case was particularly significant because a judge allowed his legal team to present scientific arguments. The dispute centred on glyphosate, which is the worlds most widely used herbicide. The verdict came a month after a federal judge ruled that cancer survivors or relatives of the deceased could bring similar claims forward in another trial, reported The Guardian.

Locally, Petra Wall, who has been distributing a petition around the municipality of Central Manitoulin, and Mr. Darlaston were interviewed last week for a story by Radio Canada. “I was surprised the woman called me from the CBC Radio Quebec after reading an article on our petition in the newspaper,” Ms. Wall told the Recorder. “I provided her all my experiences and concerns in the interview.” As has been reported previously, her concerns arose five years ago after seeing Hydro One’s agents use the herbicide against plants and vegetation at the end of September 2013. “I wrote a letter to Hydro saying it was a little late (in the season) to use this herbicide. I also explained that we had not been made aware of its use.”

Since 2002, three other municipalities on Manitoulin, Assiginack, Billings and Tehkummah, have banned the use of pesticides by electricity providers, including Garlon.

“I will collect  all the petitions at the end of August; we have between 250-300 signatures thus far ,” said Ms. Wall. “Then I will attend a council meeting in September-October to present the petition and signatures for their consideration on banning Garlon herbicide in the municipality to remove trees and shrubs and for the provincial government to allow communities to regain control of chemical spraying on rights of way for Hydro One.”