Canada’s New Brunswick province has lately become a center of controversy regarding the use of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, and the latest revelations involve the decline of deer populations due to widespread spraying of glyphosate – the active ingredient in Roundup.
Environmentalist groups are calling for a ban on the use of glyphosate for “forest management” purposes, after it was revealed that deer populations in the province have been reduced by half since 2007.
Groups such as Greenpeace and “Stop Spraying New Brunswick” are also demanding a review of “for industry and by industry” provincial forest management strategies, which appear to be largely focused on creating more timber for pulp mills, with little regard for the environment or taxpayers who are footing the bill for the spraying – whether they like it or not.
Stop Spraying New Brunswick member Peter Gilbert said that the decline of the deer population is due – at least in part – to the use of glyphosate in New Brunswick forests:
“Glyphosate is not the only factor involved in the decline of the deer population in New Brunswick, but it’s very indirectly the result that we get when we use glyphosate in forestry techniques that involve clear-cutting plantations. That speaks to total destruction of our environment [and] of our ecosystem, that all of the forest species, that all our population, is reliant on for subsistence.”
Forest management policies favor industry interests over environmental concerns
The province’s so-called forest management policies involve widespread clear-cutting and the use of glyphosate to make it easier to grow and harvest the types of trees the pulp mills want.
This “industrial approach” to forest management is devastating to deer populations, and upsets the entire ecological balance, say activists such as Green Party leader David Coon, who says a new type of forest management needs to be implemented:
“It really requires a change to forest management practices. So we get away from this sort of industrial approach to try to recreate the forests to produce the kinds of trees in high volume that the pulp mills are looking for.”
It’s unclear how much of the decline is due to the effects of clear-cutting, which destroys the deer population’s natural habitat and food supply, and how much is due to the effects of exposure to glyphosate itself. Glyphosate has been linked to cancer in humans, as well as numerous other health problems and illnesses.
Glyphosate is also deadly to many other forest wildlife species, such as salamanders and other amphibians.
Officials say that the decline of deer populations in the province are chiefly the result of two consecutive winters that produced extremely low temperatures, but Gilbert said that there is evidence showing that in neighboring provinces where the spraying of glyphosate has been banned or limited, there were no such declines – even though their winters were just as severe.
The revelations regarding the diminished deer population come on the heels of another glyphosate-related controversy in New Brunswick involving the recent firing of the province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Eilish Cleary.
Her termination is suspected to have been due to the fact that she was about to blow the whistle regarding the environmental damage caused by the industrial-scale spraying of the deadly chemical.
The controversy in New Brunswick is reflective of the larger picture. In many countries throughout the world, the situation is similar – the concerns of industry, bolstered by huge amounts of money spent on lobbying in favor of corporations, are taken into consideration over the concerns of the public and groups who want to protect the environment, wildlife and people from the dangers of glyphosate and other man-made toxins.