Calgary Herald

Herbicides are a prudent way of killing weeds

- Will VERBoVEn Will VerboVen is editor of AlbertA fArmer.

Re: “Green thumb; City can’t rely on chemicals to get rid of weeds,” Editorial, March 31.

It should not come as a surprise to Calgary citizens that there has been an explosion of noxious weeds and that the city has had to increase the use of herbicides. That’s what happens when you don’t use the appropriat­e control measures on a consistent basis in the first place, and that includes the use of safe and effective chemical herbicides.

Green groups and their media allies are quick to condemn the use of chemicals, but they have no real alternativ­es that actually work. A Herald editorial suggests better soil and plant management, good design and strategic plant selection. Well, hello, Earth calling, we are not talking about chickweed in your backyard organic tomato patch here. We are talking about ferocious invasive weeds, severe brush encroachme­nt and long-establishe­d jungles of thistles that eat small pets. What trendy feel-good organic fantasy is next — hiring plant psychologi­sts to counsel unruly noxious weeds to stop their bad behaviour and leave town?

The editorial blames the city for not being aggressive with more natural control methods after they reduced the use of herbicides. It suggests that they should now use more manual labour, more equipment, pressure spraying (who knew weeds would die from getting a shower?) and organic mulching (of course). Gee, that sounds easy; I am sure city aldermen can’t wait to spend a few million on more machinery and hundreds of new employees that will be needed to organicall­y pull noxious weeds up one by one across the city, spread tonnes of organic mulch over acres of weedinfest­ed land and pressure spray gazillions of weeds into submission.

The editorial then lectures city officials on a specific organic product they should use to solve the noxious weed problem. Gosh, that’s going to come as a complete divine revelation to managers who have plant science education, profession­al accreditat­ion and practical experience in vegetation management. A simple phone call to those people would have found out that they know exactly how to control noxious weeds and brush encroachme­nt in a safe and effective manner. The reason they can’t is their hands are being tied by greenwashe­d politician­s and their media allies who deem themselves experts in herbicides from reading junk science in green group fiction brochures.

The magic weed killer that the city is supposed to use states that its active ingredient is iron. That sounds pretty toxic to me. Have any studies been done on the safety of this poison? Hasn’t it been linked to magnetic syndrome in children and pregnant women? Hasn’t the runoff from this herbicide been linked to fish deaths? I heard that water contaminat­ed with iron-laced herbicides may cause fish that ingest the iron to become too heavy, sink and die.

The editorial writer does not seem to understand that the noxious weed issue is not about dandelions in perfect lawns. The issue is all about the uncontroll­ed explosion of noxious weeds along roadways, pathways, river banks, in ditches, in natural park areas and on neglected city-owned property. That’s what makes such recommenda­tions as keeping the soil moist to control weeds so laughable. Gosh, let’s start by getting the fire department to hose down the acres of thistles in Nose Hill Park all summer and see what happens — that should drown the pests to death.

The consistent and appropriat­e use of safe and approved chemical herbicides by trained profession­als has been proven highly effective in controllin­g noxious weeds on a large scale. It’s been proven effective in commercial agricultur­e, resulting in large increases in the global food supply over the past 80 years.

Curiously, and perhaps to the disappoint­ment of fearmonger­ing green groups, during that same time, the population has doubled, life spans have increased and there has been no mass die-off of people killed by herbicide use.

However, there is an organic answer to controllin­g noxious weeds — let’s encourage all those keen environmen­tally sensitive green groups and their media pals to get their people out and pull up all those noxious weeds to prove they can save Calgary from a herbicide Armageddon.

 ??  ?? Will Verboven
Will Verboven

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