Category Archives: Progressive Democrats of Benicia

Silent Spring in Benicia? City and school officials respond, activists call for ban

“Silent Spring in Benicia” – Progressive Dems of Benicia Forum on local glyphosate use and disuse

By Pat Toth-Smith, June 13, 2019

(Repost from

“As we move away from herbicides things are going to look shabby at first until we figure it out,” stated Alfredo Romero, Benicia Unified School District (BUSD) Maintenance Director.  He also added, we’ve stopped using Roundup and we’re moving towards more natural approaches.”  He cited goats as an example.

Stopping herbicide use was a common theme voiced by many of the speakers at the Tuesday night “Silent Spring” forum in Benicia held at the library, and sponsored by the Progressive Democrats of Benicia.

Romero worked with Lee Johnson, the former BUSD employee who won a historic lawsuit against Monsanto, when a jury agreed that his exposure to Roundup on the job was the cause of his lethal, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  Romero said, “I remember when Lee was starting to get ill and didn’t want to spray the weed killer.  We supported him in not doing it anymore….  I don’t ever want what happened to Lee to happen again,” He said at the end of his talk, “It will take a community effort to stop using chemicals, because using the herbicides are cheaper, and we need to have an increased tolerance for weeds.”

Theron Jones, Benicia Parks Supervisor, reported that Roundup is not being used by the city Parks staff and that they are moving towards an integrated pest management approach.  He said, “We never apply herbicides to playgrounds. The only places we apply herbicides to control weeds are in tree wells, planter beds and along fence lines.”  Asked about what herbicides are used, he continued,” We use the emergent weed killers sparingly, and what is applied includes Gallery S.C., Dimension Ultra, Finale, and Vastlan.”

One of the featured speakers at the forum was Kat Furey, a Client Advocate for the law firm which provided legal support for the Roundup non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma clients.  She spoke about the dangers of “glyphosate,“ the main ingredient in Roundup.  She cited the World Health Organizations’ International Agency for Research on Cancer’s declaration that glyphosate is a probable carcinogen, and noted that at this time three California courts have agreed, and awarded billions of dollars in damages to plaintiffs.  She continued, “Besides the cancer connection, glyphosate is also an endocrine disrupter, a neurotoxin, and a genotoxin, and there is no safe level of glyphosate.”  She said that it should have a warning label.   She encouraged eating organic foods as the main way to avoid glyphosates.  GMO foods have the Roundup ready gene in it to prevent the GMO plant from dying when sprayed.  Roughly 85% of our food supply contains some level of glyphosates in them as a result.

The final speaker was Makenzie Feldman, founder of Herbicide-Free UC.  She said she became an activist when groundskeepers at UC Berkeley beach volley ball courts were spraying herbicides to kill weeds in the vicinity of where her team practiced.  She and her teammates were worried about the dangers of Roundup, and so struck a deal to pull the weeds out by hand themselves. She educated herself about glyphosates and wrote an op-ed piece for the newspaper, which attracted like-minded students.  Eventually a temporary ban by the U.C. Regents on Roundup at UC Berkeley was achieved.  Ms. Feldman now is working to make the ban permanent, and has partnered with the group, “Beyond Pesticides,” to train the U.C. groundskeepers in organic methods of pest control.  These include methods to return microbial life to the soil, which naturally helps control weeds.  She also organized student volunteers to pull weeds and mulch soils to help control weeks, but added, “People need to learn to accept some weeds.”


    Poisonous weed killer – Glyphosate, the underrated risk?

    Coming on June 11: Silent Spring in Benicia?  Bring your questions, learn a lot. One of my questions, as a former user of Roundup (purchased at Ace Hardware) – what is the best way to dispose of a half-used jug of it?  Great video below…  – R.S.

    Poisoned Fields – Glyphosate, the underrated risk?

    wocomoDOCS, Jan 25, 2016, on YouTube

    Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used weed killer. Some claim it is completely harmless, others say it is a serious health hazard for man and animals. A topical investigation into a controversial substance.

    Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used weed killer in farms and gardens. German soil was treated with six million kilograms in 2012 alone. Glyphosate is cheap and readily available at all wholesale garden stores. Some claim it is completely harmless, while others say it is a serious health hazard for man and animals.

    Large-scale studies of the herbicide have only been carried out by the industry itself. Such studies would be far too expensive for individual authorities.

    But glyphosate so far only has a limited licence in Europe, and this year, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Germany is responsible for extending it. Now, the WHO has suddenly announced it is calling for an all-out ban on glyphosate, right in the middle of the decision-making procedure. A WHO cancer research team considers the herbicide produced by Monsanto, Syngenta and BASF to be absolutely toxic and probably carcinogenic.

    More and more people and animals that are exposed to the substance become ill – and there are a large number of unexplained miscarriages and deformities in humans in South America, especially in areas where glyphosate is used on large monocultures.

    Critical scientists have been warning of the long-term damage for years. But their studies have not been recognised by the authorities.

    We ask how a substance without a tested licence in Germany has been extended for test operation since 1974, even though there has been evidence of its toxicity for the past 10 years. The film sets out in search of sick animals and humans and asks how the WHO has reached these new conclusions and what action the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment is taking.

    Subscribe to wocomoDOCS for more documentaries in full length:
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    Click here for a shorter version of the film in German language:


      Progressive Dems to consider “Silent Spring in Benicia?”

      There has been a LOT of talk on Benicia Nextdoor about the toxic health effects of using Roundup here in Benicia.  (See Roundup is not Innocent Weed Killer and Silent Spring of East side Benicia.)

      The Progressive Democrats of Benicia will offer a forum with local and regional speakers on the topic on June 11.  See information below…


      June 11, Tues 7:00 pm
      Benicia Library
      Dona Benicia room

      Silent Spring in Benicia?”  Let’s talk about herbicides and pesticides.

      • Who – if anyone – is still using Roundup in Benicia?
      • What can be done to stop it?

      We will have brief reports by a representative from the City of Benicia and a representative from Benicia Unified School District, and we hope to have someone from Solano County.  Bring your concerns and questions!

      Expert speakers will include:

      We will also hear from Sustainable Solano about alternatives to glyphosate products.

      Hope to see you there!

      Ralph Dennis, PDB Chair

      Ralph Dennis