The word "herbicide" has stirred panic among those who least understand it. Parents of BSU students (not actual students who use the Burris facilities) have decided that the risk from highly regulated herbicide application (to weeds, not the children) is much more than potential immediate pain, swelling, and anaphylactic shock brought on by stings... Have no fear though, the Universities' exploratory committee (made up entirely of internal resources with no outside input) will investigate other alternatives....
In today's world, "chemophobia" can almost be designated as a state of mind, and it has become common practice, especially among popular media outlets and public figures. A stance firmly built upon decades old farming practices and unregulated pesticide use nearly a century ago, has led many to believe that these "poisons" that are killing the weeds will likely take us down with it, no matter what precaution is taken.
The reality is, however, that we are leaps and bounds.... NO.... light years away from our careless ancestors. The pesticide industry today is one of, if not THE most highly regulated industries in the country. This regulation is certainly justified, and not without reason or warranted precaution, however the stigma left by practices long before many of our grandfathers were even born continues to haunt us.
The aquatics industry often "bears the brunt" of the ill informed masses, as this group helps manage the most vital resource in the world: Water. Aquatic plant management through the use of herbicides in particular faces its own battle with public perception. Citizens would opt rather for the expansion of some of the most economically and environmentally damaging weed species in our nation rather than manage or eradicate through chemical means, based solely on fear. This should alarm not only those in the aquatics industry, but also those in natural resources management, public health, and many other affected sectors. The effect of this fear, not the means used to control such weeds, could be devastating to our natural systems.
The response to such fear should not be, however, the dismissal of questioning or worse, the bereavement of the information that could lead to informed decision making and understanding on the part of the public. It is the responsibility of those charged with the safe use of pesticides to educate and inform those who least understand. It is their job to help those charged with management make the most informed and unbiased decisions possible that will best serve the public while also protecting our natural resources.
So, for those reading who have the loudest voice when it comes to the use of pesticides (on either side of the argument), please take a step back and ask yourself a question or two. For the loudest voice AGAINST herbicide use: Are you informed on the subject to the best of your ability? And for those responsible for the safe and responsible use of pesticides: Have you done all possible to adequately inform and involve those who have petitioned its use?
I leave you with one final quote...."Knowledge comes by eyes always open and working hands; and there is no knowledge that is not power" - Ralph Waldo Emerson
For more information on the use of herbicides in aquatic plant management, visit our Best Management Practices Handbook, Appendix C; "A discussion to address your concerns: Will Herbicides Hurt Me or My Lake".
For the entire Star Press Article, click here.
Stay tuned for more from the Aquatics Update!