[Tweeters] Re: White-collared Seedeaters will soon be easier (long)

Larry Schwitters lpatters at ix.netcom.com
Tue Mar 31 15:46:42 PDT 2009

Ms Messick-Tweeters,

I started this, so I should respond. Ms Messick's post was well
thought out and presented. If her main concern is having what she
believes to be a very effective tool in the war against invasive plant
species taken away, I can appreciate that. If Ms. Messick thought
that the focus of my post was "Save the Carrizo Cane", or "Save the
Cane Toads", it wasn't. It wasn't even "Save the Seed-eaters".

My bottom line was that Aerial spraying of a little studied herbicide
along the Rio Grande is not a good idea. They (Border Patrol) are
poised to do it very soon. We should stop it. It seems the way the
Border Patrol went about it was also illegal. Is the Boarder Patrol
not to be trusted in all matters environmental. I think not.

There are others that raise some concerns. The first, which probably
isn't a real big one, is about the study we were offered a link to.

A fact sheet prepared by the Washington State Department of
Agriculture reported Imazapyr was “low in toxicity to invertebrates
and practically non-toxic to fish, birds and mammals.” Still, the fact
sheet reported Imazapyr was highly mobile and persistent in soils.

No big deal, maybe. There's more.

Public controversies over Imazapyr applications have previously
erupted in Alaska, California and Colombia, where experimental use of
the herbicide to control illegal coca plantings was approved in 2000.
A report on the chemical’s history developed for the non-governmental
group Alaska Community Action on Toxics said evidence existed that
identified imazapyr as a contaminant of soil, groundwater and surface
water. Imazapyr also contains an acid that can irritate the eyes, skin
and respiratory system, the report stated. According to the report’s
authors, additional evidence linked the herbicide to Parkinson’s
Disease-like symptoms.

The next is not a health issue, more of a what the hell issue.

In developing its Carrizo cane aerial spraying project, the Border
Patrol ignored studies by Laredo Community College researchers that
examined different means of killing off the invasive species.

Lets hear from Europe.

EPA’s assessment is somewhat troubling. In the US, the herbicide as
considered low-risk, however, outside the US, other countries do not
come up with the same conclusion. The Laredo Morning Times reported
that Mexico considers imazapyr to be medium risk, and in 2003, the
European Union banned use of the herbicide.

Lets hear from USFW

Imazapyr is also used by [Sierra Pacific Industries] in their forestry
practices. It has been shown to increase the number of brain and
thyroid cancers in male rats and can be persistent in soil for up to a
year. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has gone on record stating
that imazapyr is a threat to endangered species in 24 states east of
the Mississippi River. SPI has used almost 31,000 pounds of this
chemical in the state.

The natives on both sides of the border see themselves at possible risk.
Here is a medley of posts in "Immigration, Mexico, Texas, borders".

In Cantox’s Imazapyr profile (Independent contractor, Cantox
Environmental), one of their findings refutes a claim that EPA made
about imazapyr. EPA is on record saying that imazapyr is relatively
nontoxic if swallowed, however, under the heading Toxicological
Summary, Cantox cites a study that says otherwise:

During 1993 to 1997, six cases of acute poisoning with Arsenal
(active ingredient imazapyr) occurred (Lee et al., 1999). Of the six
cases, five were suicide attempts and one was an act of violence
inflicted on a child. Three of the patients had severe symptoms
including impairment of consciousness and respiratory distress. Other
symptoms included metabolic acidosis, hypotension, leukocytosis,
fever, mild elevation of hepatic tranaminase and creatinine,
unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia, oral ulceration, pharyngolaryngitis,
and chemical burns of the cornea (Lee et al., 1999). Mortality did not
occur in any of the six cases. In general, toxic syndrome from Arsenal
ingestion occurs at doses >100 mL. Effects include hypotension,
pulmonary dysfunction, oral mucosal and gastrointestinal irritation,
and transient liver and renal dysfunction (Lee et al., 1999).

This is very concerning. Cantox report was completed in 2007, yet,
they could only find one human related study that was published in
1999. One has to wonder, if this product went through the US Food and
Drug Administration, would it have received the green light to go the
market? Probably not, so why did the EPA approve, while some countries
banned it?

Considering there was very little to go on, Cantox had no other choice
but use EPA as a source of information to complete the report.
Canada’s Health department, Health Canada, expressed their concern for
using EPA standards because what EPA considers “exposure estimates”
were “not intended to represent the level of exposure in a
population.” Yet, with the approval of EPA, Border Patrol was about to
spray this toxic in a populated area as a pilot project. This is very
reminiscent of the domestic human experiments our military conduct
during the Cold War.

One native's conclusion:

"While it has been delayed, but this is not good enough. The use of
imazapyr in the United States must be stopped. There are many
conflicting data on the effects of such widespread use of imazapyr.
Most importantly, the citizens along the border should be not used as
the governments Guinea pigs in the drug war."

Now that I have learned more about the situation, I still think its a
bad idea.

Larry Schwitters

On Mar 31, 2009, at 8:28 AM, Messick, Katie wrote:

> Dear Tweeters community,


> This is a plea to the scientist in each of you to take a closer look

> at the flood of reports coming out of Laredo TX on the Border

> Patrol’s rather misguided attempt to do an aerial application of the

> herbicide imazapyr on the banks of the Rio Grande, with the stated

> intention of removing the “Carrizo cane” that illegal immigrants

> hide in. I think they really mishandled the situation by failing to

> get public input or carefully weigh all the options. However, a

> couple points that were brought up in the articles linked to by

> concerned Tweeters need to be examined more closely.


> 1. “Border Plants to be Killed to Reveal Smugglers” http://www.truthout.org/032509N

> Most importantly, although it’s mentioned in small print far down in

> the text of the article, it should be noted that “Carrizo cane” is

> the extremely invasive species Arundo donax, more often known on the

> west coast by the common name “giant reed.” Giant reed is NOT good

> bird habitat, and in fact has been closely linked to the decline of

> the federally endangered least Bell’s vireo, as well as to habitat

> loss for other riparian birds, including southwest willow flycatcher

> and yellow-billed cuckoo. (http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/datastore/detailreport.cfm?usernumber=8&surveynumber=182;http://www.prbo.org/calpif/htmldocs/species/riparian/least_bell_vireo.htm

> )


> Although the white-collared seedeater is often seen in giant reed

> stands in Texas (http://www.cerc.usgs.gov/pubs/center/pdfDocs/galvan.pdf

> ), Cornell Lab’s Birds of North America indicates that this bird

> does not use giant reed as nesting habitat; nor is giant reed one of

> its preferred foods. Since giant reed is really an enormous grass,

> it’s not surprising that you’d find seedeaters there when giant reed

> is the dominant riparian plant. If, as stated in the articles about

> the project in Laredo, the areas where giant reed is controlled is

> to be replanted with native plants, chances are that white-collared

> seedeater habitat will increase, not be eliminated. (“The Border

> Patrol said that after using the herbicide, it plans to make the

> river's edges green again by planting native plants.” http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/03/25/mexico.border.herbicide/)


> 2. “Agent Orange-like Chemical to Be Used at US-Mexico Border”

> Although the stated purpose of the Border Patrol is “to improve

> [their] mobility and visibility up and down the river,” which lends

> itself to comparison with the horrible misuse of chemicals for

> jungle defoliation in Vietnam, the herbicide they are proposing to

> use has little similarity to Agent Orange, which contained now-

> banned dioxins and other chemcals demonstrated to seriously harm

> human health. Imazapyr is a relatively new herbicide, and so

> questions remain about long term effects, and we are right to be

> concerned, but the short term effects (acute toxicity and chronic

> toxicity over a short period of time) have been studied (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/pesticides/final_pesticide_permits/noxious/risk_assessment_Imazapyr.pdf

> ). Against an invader like giant reed, the judicious use of

> herbicide may be necessary for successful control. Integrated Pest

> Management (IPM) is generally accepted as the best management

> strategy for controlling invasive weeds. IPM evaluates all

> available control options and uses the best combination of methods

> for the site conditions and target plant (including manual,

> mechanical, cultural (such as replanting), chemical and/or

> biological control) to knock back the invader, and should also

> include extensive monitoring and follow-up to ensure that the

> controlled invasive species does not return.


> Not all herbicides are the same, any more than all drugs are the

> same. You wouldn’t use aspirin to cure a stomach ache, for

> example. You also wouldn’t use a whole bottle of aspirin if you had

> a headache. When the right herbicide is used in the right way, the

> benefits can be enormous. If an herbicide is overused, used in the

> wrong place, or used for the wrong reason, the damage can also be

> enormous. With herbicides we tend to focus on the potential damage

> rather than on the benefits. I urge you to become informed about

> the specific herbicides being used in any weed control project, but

> also become informed about the potential impacts of the weeds if

> nothing is done. Remember, doing nothing is also an action and also

> has consequences, as anyone who has tried to go fishing in a milfoil

> infested lake (or looked for birds in a riparian corridor dominated

> by knotweed or reed canarygrass) can tell you.


> Humans brought these invasives here – think starlings – and I think

> we have the responsibility to mitigate our actions – think bluebird

> nest boxes. Please question the use of herbicide, please disagree

> with the methods chosen, but do so from an informed point of view.


> Katie Messick

> Wallingford, Seattle

> katie.messick -at- kingcounty.gov





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