Chemical controversy

Petition signed to encouraged natural alternatives to herbicides and insecticides

For Peter Todaro ‘17, insecticide and herbicide use at Lafayette is a topic of concern that needs to be addressed. The treasurer of the Lafayette Food and Farm Co-Operative petitioned the administration to discontinue the use of certain insecticides and herbicides at Lafayette.

The petition, which garnered 274 signatures from students, faculty and staff before being turned in Wednesday, calls for Lafayette to stop its use of the insecticide Allectus and herbicide Lesco Three-way to consider natural alternatives to the two products.

A 2013 study by three Lafayette students found these two products were the major liquid and solid pesticides used by the college. In 2014, a Harvard School of Public Health study that replicated a previous study from the HSPH that found a link between neonicotinoids insecticide that is in Allectus and Colony Collapse Disorder, which causes massive die-offs of bees and other pollinators.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced earlier this month that they will no longer provide new permits to apply Allectus. Similarly, Lowes announced on April 9 that they would phase out the sale of neonicotinoids over the next four years. The European Union adopted a proposal to limit the use of three neonicotinoids, including the one found in Allectus, nearly two years ago.

“I’m obviously not accusing anyone of having maligned intentions,” Todaro said. “It’s just that new science has emerged on neonicotinoids, and our policies simply need to catch up.”

Todaro also has concerns for Lectus. The product is “corrosive, [and] causes irreversible eye damage” in humans and “toxic to aquatic invertebrates,” according to the product’s manual. Runoff from the application of Lectus may adversely affect aquatic invertebrates in nearby Bushkill Creek, Todaro wrote in his petition.

Todaro provided a list of alternative pesticides along with his petition.

“There are plenty of natural alternatives that are in use today around the country,” Todaro said. “There are plenty of natural, cheap, effective products that… would probably kill just as much weeds and bugs, if that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Though Todaro crafted the petition on his own, the presidents of four of the five environmental groups on campus also supported the petition, according to Todaro.

President of Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection Alexa Gatti ’16 is one of the four.

“It’s a public health issue. It’s an environmental health issue,” Gatti said. “To become a more sustainable campus, it’s an important step to take.”

Todaro has reached out to Plant Ops and they are, according to Todaro, evaluating possibilities for natural alternatives.

Director of Plant Operations Bruce Ferretti and Assistant Director of Plant Operations George Xiques had not responded to The Lafayette’s requests for comment as of deadline.

 

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