By: Gil Smart, Treasure Coast Newspapers
Let’s not get too excited.
The decision by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission last week to temporarily suspend the use of aquatic plant killers, including the controversial herbicide Roundup, to control weeds in Lake Okeechobee and other state waters was undoubtedly good news.
There are significant concerns about glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, and its potential impact on human health. One widely-cited 2015 study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer calls it a potential carcinogen; and the widespread use of glyphosate in commercial agriculture means trace amount of the chemical inevitably make it into the food we eat — with potential consequences not yet fully explored.
But the more immediate problem might be glyphosate's potential impact on our waters. For glyphosate, widely and effectively used in Lake O and elsewhere to kill invasives such as torpedo grass and water hyacinth, ultimately deposits phosphorus into our waters.
Not only that, the plants killed by the chemical often sink to the bottom, turn into sediment — and release yet more phosphorus into Lake O and other waters.
Phosphorus feeds the blue-green algae blooms that choked local waters in recent years. So unquestionably, both glyphosate and the manner in which it is utilized have resulted in more phosphorus in our waters — and, ultimately, more blooms.
So the temporary ban by FWC is the right call…