AUGUSTA – On Monday, the Maine Senate enacted a bill from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to ban the aerial spraying of toxic herbicides in the Maine woods. The initial vote was 19-14 in the Senate and 77-53 in the House.
LD 125, “An Act To Prohibit the Aerial Spraying of Glyphosate and Other Synthetic Herbicides for the Purpose of Silviculture” would protect Maine workers, families, forests and streams from the adverse effects of these harmful chemicals.
“The aerial spraying of toxic chemicals, including glyphosate, is a harmful and unnecessary practice that is becoming increasingly more popular among landowners at the expense of the people and wildlife in northern Maine. These chemicals seep into our rivers and streams, they do irreversible damage to the local ecosystem and wildlife and they threaten the health of our workers and families,” said President Jackson. “Banning this practice is long overdue. I’m hopeful that the governor will sign this bill into law and to protect the health and well-being of the people working and living in northern Maine, and safeguard our natural resources for future generations.”
Aerial herbicide spraying is used in the forestry industry by landowners to kill off less favorable trees to facilitate the growth of more profitable trees. This practice has continued despite the adverse effects these chemicals have on the local ecosystem, wildlife, neighboring lands, drinking water and the health of the people working in the Maine woods.
Glyphosate, the central ingredient in many herbicides, has been banned in several towns, cities, states and countries over the past few years due to links to cancer. The World Health Organization’s International Agency on the Research of Cancer has declared the chemical “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Germany is the most recent country to move in this direction. The use of aerial herbicides has been banned locally in some areas of the state, including President Jackson’s hometown of Allagash.
“There is growing evidence that glyphosate — the central chemical used in aerial herbicide spraying — is harmful to humans and animals. Not only has it been linked to negative health outcomes including reduced liver and kidney function, endocrine disruption, chromosomal damage and damage to fetal development, but the manufacturer has doled out more than $10 billion in settlements to people harmed by the chemical,” said Sen. Chloe Maxmin, D-Nobleboro, a cosponsor of the legislation. “When there are other safe and effective ways to manage growth, we owe it to Maine people and small businesses to help them protect themselves and their products by banning this practice.”
Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the company Bayer, which develops, manufactures and sells the prominent weed killer Roundup. The lawsuits allege Bayer failed to warn consumers about the dangers of their products, specifically, the patented synthetic herbicide glyphosate.
President Jackson’s bill has the support of loggers, farmers and advocates, including the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Maine Public Health Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility – Maine Chapter, Defend Our Health, Maine Wilderness Guides Organization and the Environmental Priorities Coalition. Maine’s Environmental Priorities Coalition is a partnership of 32 environmental, conservation and public health organizations representing more than 100,000 members who want to protect the good health, good jobs, and quality of life that our environment provides.
LD 125 will now go to the governor’s desk for her signature. The governor has ten days to sign the bill, veto the bill, or allow the bill to become law without her signature.