ENVIRO-GUARDIANS WITH A GLOBAL GOAL.

Journalist Blake Linder | Thursday, 29 August 2019, 12:32

Enviro-guardians with a global goal
EEPF chairman, John Davison.

GARDEN ROUTE NEWS – The Eden Environmental Protection Forum (EEPF) is poised and ready to continue fighting against the use of glyphosate on the Garden Route, but their long-term goals stretch much further than our corner of the world.

The forum was founded only a few months ago, by one Ruigtevlei resident who was concerned about a post he saw on Facebook, to the effect that wood-product magnate PG Bison would be spraying a number of hectares of land with Kilo Max, a herbicide in which glyphosate is the main ingredient.

This led John Davison, who has been living in Ruigtevlei for two years, to form a WhatsApp group informing residents in the area, and to garner support to stop the spraying.

Little did Davison realise just how deep the rabbit hole is that he would descend into, as the WhatsApp group alone grew to the point where he had to expand and think bigger. This led to the eventual formation of the EEPF, which would become the voice of the community in the battle against PG Bison’s spraying of Kilo Max.

After a vote, Davison took on the mantle of chairman while fellow Ruigtevlei resident Dr Andrew Yates would take on the task of vice-chairman, after he became a big part in the PG Bison saga. The EEPF’s endgame is much more than only the battle with PG Bison, as according to Davison they have a larger goal – to fight global warming and rehabilitate the Garden Route.

“The PG Bison issue is a small piece in a very big puzzle, and we want to ultimately be the driving force and unifying body in the fight against global warming,” Davison said. “We have so many issues to tackle, and many ideas on how to approach and tackle them, this is just the start.”

Davison and his counterparts have since started a Facebook page, Eden Environmental Protection Forum, in an effort to draw support from a wider community. One issue they are looking to tackle in particular, is the persistent drought that the Western Cape is facing, and they believe there is a way to mend that.

Davison believes that part of the way in which one can rehabilitate the Cape at large, is starting with the indigenous forests along the coastline. “The alien plants and trees take up so much water, which is partly the reason why there’s such a water shortage,” he said. “We believe that by getting rid of the aliens and rehabilitating the indigenous plants we can tackle the water shortage, and this could filter all the way back to the Karoo.”

Glyphosate: the bad boy of alien warfare?
Glyphosate has been used commercially since its introduction by Monsanto in 1970, but has never been without controversy, as the chemical has been questioned on countless occasions by many people and organisations around the world over the adverse effects it has on people, plants, animals, and all sorts of other wildlife.

In a bid to break down what *glyphosate really is about, here are a few things you should know:

  • Glyphosate is classified as non-carcinogenic to humans, but investigations involving glyphosate exposure to wildlife and humans show adverse effects resulting from genotoxicity, cytotoxicity and reproductive toxicity caused by exposure to glyphosate.
  • Children are particularly vulnerable to pesticides, including glyphosate.
  • Glyphosate can last decades in soils with a pH balance favouring acidity (lower than six on the scale). In water, it has a long persistence in sediments.
  • It kills plants by disrupting the plant’s shikimate pathway (a way for plants to digest nutrients), essentially starving the plants. Glyphosate has desiccating effects, which starve plants of water.
  • As a powerful antibiotic, it kills beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms in the soil which severely limits replanting after glyphosate use.
  • It is a threat to non-target plants as a result of spray drift, as well several other other organisms near the area sprayed.
  • In laboratory experiments, frog embryos exposed to dilutions of the chemical showed several physical malformations.
  • Glyphosate is soluble in water, and binds more to clay soil particles than it does to sandy soil particles.
  • Even when settled into soil particles, it may dissolve back into water.
  • Glyphosate presence in soil can change the balance of bacteria and fungi, altering the soil ecosystem.
  • In laboratory studies, Argentinean researchers found that glyphosate-containing herbicides could also be toxic to earthworms, causing damage to cells and DNA at levels “close to the applied environmental concentrations”.
  • According to Dr Andrew Yates, “there is plenty of technical material regar-ding the side-effects of glypho-sate on the health of bees, but the most obvious, and significant impact of glyphosate is not a side-effect but rather it is the direct effect inasmuch that it kills the source of pollen on which the bees feed to live”. – Blake Linder

*Sources:

  • The Unintended Consequences of Using Glyphosate (the main ingredient in the herbicide Roundup) by Sharon Rushton, Ann Spake, and Laura Charlton, published January 2016
  • Ecotoxicology of Glyphosate and Glyphosate-Based Herbicides — Toxicity to Wildlife and Humans by Paul K. Mensah, Carolyn G. Palmer, and Oghenekaro N. Odume, published in 2015
  • The environmental impacts of glyphosate by Friends of the Earth Europe, published June 2013