In both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick concerns about spraying clearcuts with glyphosate herbicide have hit the news recently. Nova Scotia musician Dave Gunning is calling for the government to ban use of glyphosate because of its possible carcinogenic effects as well as “effects on honey bees and other critters of the wild” (view CH Aug 7, 2016), while in N.B. ‘Stop Spraying New Brunswick’ blames deer population decline on herbicides (view Global news Aug 6, 2016).
In Nova Scotia, the government stopped subsidizing herbicide use (chiefly glyphosate) and stopped its use on crown lands in 2010 but such practices continue in New Brunswick. In Nova Scotia, herbicide is still used on some privately owned lands. Recently Wagner Forest NS Ltd has applied to spray 500 ha in Cumberland, Pictou & Hants counties (re: a previous post) and Northern Pulp more than 1,300 hectares in Colchester and Halifax counties (LocalExpress, Aug 10, 2016).
The evidence for carcinogenic effects of glyphosate is not clear-cut, so to speak. Personally, I am more concerned about the effects of this widely used herbicide on our gut microflora which we now know play a critical role in our well-being (not to mention effects on soil microflora!). A couple of reviews in very reputable journals make the point: The gut microbiota: a major player in the toxicity of environmental pollutants? & Concerns over use of glyphosate-based herbicides and risks associated with exposures: a consensus statement. See also a recent review by Myers et al. (2016): Concerns over use of glyphosate-based herbicides and risks associated with exposures: a consensus statement. Of course our Nova Scotia Natural Resources scientific personnel are on top of it all, so we don’t need to worry.
D. Charbonneau and J. Simpson wrote an excellent review/critique on FOREST HERBICIDES AS A VEGETATION MANAGEMENT TOOL: PERSPECTIVES ON THE FUTURE OF FOREST MANAGEMENT IN NOVA SCOTIA in 2010. They concluded:
There are arguments in the literature both in favour of and against the use of herbicides in forestry. We suggest that if it is possible to obtain comparable stocking levels of commercial species without the use of herbicides, the principle of parsimony dictates that herbicides not be used. We feel that our preliminary results suggest that this is the case. Therefore, we recommend that the government cease to fund herbicide use in Nova Scotia, and consider banning their use on Crown land, as has been done in Quebec since 2001.
The NS Government did just that in December of 2010. Now, in 2016, it is time to ban all use of herbicides in Nova Scotia forests.
(Post updated 3 Oct 2016)