Senate approves bill to ban aerial spraying of toxic chemicals

AUGUSTA – A bill from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to ban the aerial spraying of toxic herbicides, earned strong bipartisan support in the Senate on Monday. The vote was 19-14.


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. 


“In northern Maine, our environment is a critical part of who we are, what we do for work and where we spend our time. Aerial herbicide spraying puts all of that at risk for ourselves and future generations,” said President Jackson. “It’s simply a risk that we can’t afford to take so some large can generate a large profit in the short term. We must band together and ban this harmful practice, not protect the status quo.”


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 before the House for a vote.


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