Hellbender Journal Autumn 2002
|Notice alerting hikers
of Oust spraying in the Allegheny National Forest. Photo
by Rachel Martin
Round 'em Up and Oust
By Richard Whiteford
Since 1986 the U.S. Forest Service has sprayed the
herbicides Oust and Roundup on over 13,000 acres of the Allegheny
National Forest. After shaving the hills naked of the native trees
and plants they cover the ground with it to prevent nature from
replenishing her natural splendor.
So, by the thousands of acres, the U.S. Forest Service
is destroying the natural diversity of our national forest with
poison to create a one species tree farm of black cherry because
that's what's lucrative right now. Not only will a one species forest
devastate bird and animal populations, but also using Roundup and
Oust could have far greater consequences on humans living downstream.
The manufacturer of Oust, E.I. du Ponte de Nemours
& Co. and the manufacturer of Roundup, Monsanto, claim that these
products are safe. However, a report from Northwest Coalition for
Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) reveals quite a different picture.
Roundup (Glyphosate) and Oust (Sulfometuron Methyl)
are broad-spectrum herbicides that are acutely toxic to animals
and humans. They reduce populations of beneficial insects, birds,
and small mammals by destroying vegetation on which they depend
for food and shelter and wreak havoc on wildlife food chains. They
also increase plant susceptibility to disease and reduce the growth
of nitrogen-fixing bacteria and can cause a dramatic shift in the
distribution and diversity of native plants.
Oust is extremely potent. It takes less than a ten-thousandth
of an ounce per square foot of ground to effectively kill plants.
Laboratory studies found Roundup to have adverse effects at different
levels of toxicology testing. Medium-term toxicity produces salivary
gland lesions. Long-term toxicity causes inflamed stomach linings,
an increased frequency of pancreas and liver tumors in male rats,
and thyroid cancer in female rats. It causes reduced sperm counts
in rats and abnormal sperm in rabbits. Research at Texas Tech University
showed that Roundup fed to mice caused a decrease in the production
of sex hormones and a 90 percent reduction of testicle cell production.
In humans it causes genetic damage to blood cells, and some farmers
who spray Roundup experience an increased risk of miscarriages,
premature birth, and the cancer non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Similarly, rats that ate Oust over a ten-day period
developed problems with their testes. Some developed unusually small
testes or testicular lesions.
Dogs that were exposed to Oust for a longer period
of time suffered the same maladies.
Rats that inhaled a very small dose of Roundup started
gasping, got congested eyes, became inactive and lost weight. Their
lungs were red or blood-congested. Higher doses caused lung damage
and death. Dogs that were given Roundup intravenously experienced
Pregnant rabbits that ate Oust became anorexic, depressed,
and thin; their pregnancies ended in miscarriages. The fetuses in
rabbits that were given very high doses were completely resorbed.
Studies show that two of the chemicals produced by
the breakdown of sulfometuron methyl in goats, sulfanilamide and
saccharin have been associated with cancer and genetic damage in
laboratory tests. Sulfonilamide causes mutations in bacteria Escherichia
coli and invasive lung tumors in rats. Saccharin induces bladder
cancer in rats and chromatid exchanges in human cells.
Both Oust and Roundup have been found in streams following
forestry and agricultural applications. They are highly toxic to
fish and young fish are more sensitive than older fish. The toxicity
of Roundup increases as water temperature rises and toxicity rates
doubled in rainbow trout and bluegills in water at 7 and 17 degrees
C (45 and 63 degrees F).
U p to 1/3 of the lethal concentrations of Roundup
caused erratic swimming and labored breathing in trout, making them
more susceptible to predation. Less than 1 percent of the lethal
concentration caused gill damage in carp and less than 2 percent
caused changes in liver structure. Roundup killed over 50 percent
of three species of beneficial insects: a parasitoid wasp, a lacewing,
and a ladybug and it killed over 80 percent of a predatory beetle.
After spraying Roundup on a clearcut in Maine, 89
percent of the plant-eating insects died; insects that are food
for birds and small mammals. Spraying Roundup over large areas has
a dramatic impact on bird populations. Birds depend on plants for
food, shelter, and nesting. Clearcut areas in Maine and Nova Scotia
experienced serious population drops in the two most common birds,
the white-throated sparrow and the common yellowthroat, for two
years after spraying. Grouse avoid treated areas for several years
In Canada 46 percent of plants serving as important
food for moose, up to 40 percent of the plants eaten by elk, and
36 percent of the plants eaten by mule deer were severely damaged
from Roundup. Roundup is extremely persistent in the soil. In forestry
sites where it is used, it has been detected up to 3 years after
application. Streams are contaminated in forests in Washington and
Oregon where timber companies use Roundup.
Oust inhibited five out of eleven soil microorganisms
that play a vital role in creating humus, aerating the soil, and
maintaining the ecological balance of the soil. Soil studies show
that Oust can persist in soil up to a year depending upon the soil
type. Under dry windy conditions Oust can travel miles from where
it was applied. In 1985 in Franklin County, Washington Oust was
applied to 700 miles of roadsides. Wind blew the dry contaminated
soil and caused over a million dollars of crop damage.
From microscopic bacteria to moose nothing is exempt
from the effects of Oust and Roundup. Herbicide spraying and clearcutting
the Allegheny National Forest for the purpose of economic profit
is in direct violation of the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resource
Planning Act. Our national forests are here for the enjoyment of
our families and future generations, but not to become a cherry
tree farm. The Forest Service should restore and protect our forests,
not destroy them.
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