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Letter: Spraying harmful

Published: Sunday, June 16 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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If goats and sheep and even "the tiny flea beetle" have proved effective in controlling invasive plants, why does it appear that the state of Utah's "war" on such plants prioritizes herbicide spraying ("Noxious weeds threaten landscapes, food supply, air quality," June 11)? The chemicals typically used are, contrary to manufacturers' claims of innocuousness, hazardous to environmental-health. Worse, such spraying has been shown to not only be ineffective in controlling invasive plants but actually counterproductive. A study by the USDA in Montana found that herbicide spraying actually increased the spread of the target plant, while harming several native forb species 16 years after the application.

Spraying tends to create "super-weeds," leading to greater applications of more toxic chemicals in an endless treadmill. Rather than a "meaningful expenditure of our tax dollars" as Utah State Sen. Margaret Dayton characterizes it, this amounts to a massive handout to herbicide companies, poisoning the land and jeopardizing public health in the process. The state should use the safer, effective biological controls rather than waste money and health on a futile chemical war.

Jonathan Jensen

Salt Lake City

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