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Letter: Discouraged by misinformation

To The Editor:

A hearty congratulations to the City of Nelson for undertaking the removal of Japanese knotweed and the Kootenay Invasive Species Society in supporting their efforts.

In recent news it was reported that the effort was undertaken with a ‘non-glyphosate herbicide by a licensed contractor’. ‘Milestone’, with the active ingredient Aminopyralid, was the herbicide of choice.

I suspect the reason for this choice is due to the general public’s and the RDCK’s irrational fear of using an application containing glyphosate. I am sure the contrived hysteria around glyphosate has limited the efforts that the Society has been able to undertake.

The cost of the Milestone herbicide is roughly four times that of a glyphosate containing herbicide such as Roundup. Add to that the cost of a licensed contractor to apply it and the expense of the effort certainly begins to climb. The efficacy of the Aminopyralid herbicide is similar to that of Glyphosate but it’s cost and application appear to be more expensive.

Glyphosate is classified as "probably carcinogenic" by IARC/WHO. This is the same category that substances such as red meat and very hot beverages fall into, and less hazardous than things like alcoholic beverages. In a simple comparison, the comparative LD50 of Aminopyralid is 5000 mg/kg body weight while the LD50 of Glyphosate is 5600 mg/kg body weight. It is to be noted that glyphosate, and all herbicides, are used in extremely limited and controlled quantities for invasive plant control, and only when other techniques are determined to be ineffective or cost prohibitive.

The end result, however, is a more expensive and more toxic herbicide having to be used. As I see the copious amounts of Japanese Knotweed, Giant Knotweed and Scotch Broom on the roadside between Nelson and Balfour I have to conclude that it will be years before it is eradicated... if ever.

I commend and support the Society in their efforts on behalf of government and other land managers who invest significant effort and funds into protecting our ecosystems from invasive plants every year. I am, however, discouraged when I see them hamstrung by the misinformation and hysteria that resides in some members of the public and the RDCK.

Before the trolls gather it should be understood that I am not pro or con on glyphosate but rather I am appalled by the continued lack of critical thinking around the issue of glyphosate’s safety and use.

Ryan Lengsfeld, Nelson BC