Weeds, for lack of a better word, can be good

Thu, 08/23/2018 - 8:30pm

The news out of California was shocking: a jury awards a groundskeeper almost $290 million based on its determination that the herbicide glyphosate, found in the popular weedkiller Roundup, was responsible for his cancer.

That verdict will undoubtedly be appealed, but the message the jury sent is assuredly part of a rising mood among the public about the state of our environment and the products we use to make life supposedly more convenient and beautiful. 

But oceans choked with plastic debris, and respiratory and other illnesses that have been linked to chemical ingredients found in everyday products, do not make life more convenient or beautiful. What we have learned through the reporting of our own Renée Meyer is that some of the plants traditionally thought of as weeds are some of the best plants that help preserve the fragile balance of our ecosystem. Witness the resurgence of monarch butterflies on the island since people have been letting their milkweed grow.

Block Island has been proactive about banning materials unhealthy for our natural surroundings. Restaurants did not wait for a ban on plastic straws; many of them went ahead and did it anyway. 

Now there is a discussion about the presence of glyphosate that the Town Council has put on its agenda. There may be two sides to this story, but let’s cut to the chase: a product that by its very nature is designed to kill something living cannot possibly be good for the environment. 

We hope the Council bans glyphosate; it has no useful purpose here.