Green victory over Glyphosate
Thanks to Greens in the ABQ metro area
ALBUQUERQUE, NM – The Green Party of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Area's petition campaign paid off big time in terms of public health and environmental integrity. The petition asked the Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners to stop using glyphosate in open spaces, parks, sports fields and other public areas under its administration. Approximately 500 signatures were presented to the Commissioners.
After lots of dedication and perseverance gathering signatures, the Green Party of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Area (GPAMA) had its petition ready for a Bernalillo County Commission meeting in October 2018. Prior to the meeting an alert was sent to petition signers. People called, e-mailed, and appeared in person at multiple meetings to support the effort to eliminate glyphosate use on county-administered properties. The Commission heard the comments and unanimously passed a resolution to impose a moratorium on and eventually eliminate the county's glyphosate use.
A committee of county officialdom was set up to examine an eventual phase-out of glyphosate and to explore alternatives. The public was also invited to attend. Over the course of a few months in early 2019, different community members showed up to talk about alternative scenarios for weed control. Following up on their early involvement, Green Party members consistently attended meetings and provided input on alternatives.
Technical issues were discussed extensively. County employees who administered the glyphosate appeared at a committee meeting en masse to protest the move to phase out a toxic chemical that would also affect their own health. It was a fascinating case of bureaucratic inertia in action and provided Green Party members insight into the inner workings of local government.
By early summer of 2019, two events had moved the issue forward. The county hired an outside firm to look at weed control alternatives. And the county's legal department, after reviewing the Commission mandate, declared an immediate end to glyphosate use on county properties. The original citizen committee was reconfigured as a larger steering committee and continues to include Greens. The development of an Integrated Vegetation Maintenance and Management Plan become a project much larger than GPAMA expected.
Media coverage of the issue has been mixed. Some reports emphasize the health benefits of the glyphosate ban while others talk about the outcry from some members of the public over the number of weeds that are visible in public spaces including roadsides and medians. One of the tasks of the steering committee will be to educate the public on a number of subjects, including expectations of large grassed areas, tolerance for weeds, participation in manual eradication of weeds, etc.
It is likely that the success with this Green action was at least partly due to its timing. It is getting harder to ignore the impact of human action on the health of the planet, and county officials were well aware of the staggering jury awards being won by plaintiffs in lawsuits against Monsanto and Bayer. They were ready to hear comments and testimonies from the public and were ready to move on the issue. Greens were at the forefront of the effort to petition, to testify, and to represent the interests of citizens of Bernalillo County.
GPAMA is a local of the Green Party of New Mexico and serves the Albuquerque Metro Area that includes Bernalillo, Sandoval, Valencia, and Torrance Counties.
Green Party of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Area