by Dave Mance III
It seems almost quaint, or perhaps naive, to imagine a time, not too-too long ago, when black and white film strips proclaimes the wonders of chemistry and suburban children danced gleefully behind fumigators in fluffy white clouds of pesticide. We live in a more skeptical time today, and for many people, the word pesticide is more likely to evoke images of malformed frogs, Agent Orange, and GMO seeds than it is anything positive.
Among chemical herbicides, glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, may be the most scrutinized. Its use is bitterly debated in agricultural circles, and this bleeds over into forestry and into the pages of this magazine. Chances are you know someone who’s using glyphosate in their forest management activities (if you’re not using it yourself”, be it for controlling invasive plants in southern Connecticut or regenerating spruce in a clearcut in northern Maine. Highway departments, fisheries managers, homeowners, conservation groups, are all using this chemical on a regular basis. And chances are that unless you have degrees in biochemistry and toxicology, you really don’t know what to make of it. How can we reconcile the gluyphosate in our sprayers with the copies of Silent Spring on our bookshelves?
How can we trust something we don’t understand?
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