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University System Halts Use of a Pesticide


By Dan Hounsell Grounds Management
Worker spraying insecticides

Integrated pest management (IPM) has taken root for many grounds management departments in institutional facilities in the last decade. The practice offers grounds managers an alternative strategy for controlling pests in landscapes in ways that do not harm the environment. Even though many organizations years ago embraced IPM as an alternative to the traditional use of harsh chemicals, manages continue to refine their practices in response to legal developments related to chemicals.

Recently, University of California system halted the use of glyphosate on all 10 of its campuses, which serve more than 200,000 students, according to Independent Science News. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the Monsanto weed killer products Roundup and Ranger, as well as more than 700 other commercial herbicides. Glyphosate herbicides and the manufacturer Monsanto recently were implicated in a third lawsuit in which plaintiffs were awarded over $2 billion dollars.

The system’s decision cites “concerns about possible human health and ecological hazards, as well potential legal and reputational risks associated with this category of herbicides.” The suspension follows a campaign to end the use of herbicides across the University of California campuses by Herbicide-Free UC. This initiative started out as an Herbicide-Free Cal campaign that was founded by two UC Berkeley student-athletes in 2017 after they were made aware of herbicides being used around their volleyball court.

At the UC Berkeley campus, the Herbicide-Free UC students worked with the grounds operations manager to pilot herbicide-free practices on two large campus spaces and nine smaller spaces during the 2018-2019 school year.

Dan Hounsell is editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions.

 

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