Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.
Roundup is one of the best-known herbicides, but it’s not just for farmers and groundskeepers—the logging industry also pours tons of the stuff on forests. Canada’s This magazine brings this issue vividly to light in a profile of Joel Theriault, a feisty outdoorsman, activist, and lawyer who is campaigning against herbicide spraying in Ontario’s northern forests. Writes Ashley Walter in This:
The most widely used glyphosate-based herbicide in forestry is Monsanto Canada’s Vision, more commonly known by its agricultural brand name, Roundup. Ninety percent of the forestry market sprays glyphosate-based products, affecting approximately 70,000 hectares [173,000 acres] of Ontario’s forests annually.
Mind you, that’s just Ontario’s forests. Glyphosate products are widely used in the United States as well, chiefly to suppress competing vegetation when replanting trees after clear cutting. Theriault, who was raised at a remote lodge, took up the issue while working as a fly-in fishing guide:
As a pilot he began to notice changes in the landscape. Once-familiar swaths of greenery, shrubs, and dense, dark forests took on a sickly yellowish-brown hue. From the air, vast clearcuts gave fallen trees the appearance of twigs strewn over patches of mud. Forests quickly became barren, marked by the occasional patchwork of brown brush. Theriault was horrified by the transformation and felt a personal responsibility to prevent its further destruction. “If you spend enough time somewhere … you start to claim some ownership over it,” he says.
Theriault believes that he and some friends were poisoned by eating wild game from sprayed areas, and in the 1990s many others hunters, anglers, foresters, and aboriginal leaders testified to damaging effects in a Canadian environmental hearing. But neither that case nor Theriault’s long, lonely battle has brought about significant change. He’s frustrated but still committed, he tells Walter: “I’m still plowing away at it.”
Source: This (article not available online)