A five-hour-long hearing of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture involved heated testimony from residents, activist groups, scientists and legislators seeking to either ban or limit the use of glyphosate and other pesticides on public property such as parks, playgrounds, school buildings and medians, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported.

“We received, in a very short period of time, more than 100 emails and phone calls about Eversource’s spraying of glyphosate around utility poles,” said Massachusetts state Sen. Jo Comerford, which prompted her and her staff to take a closer look at the issue of spraying glyphosate around the state.

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the widely used weed killer Roundup. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, in 2015, classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen based in part on studies of farmers exposed to the chemical who developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Roundup was produced by Monsanto more than four decades ago. German company Bayer AG acquired Monsanto last year, just before the company faced its first trial alleging Monsanto failed to warn consumers that exposure to glyphosate in Roundup could cause cancer. That case, as well as others that followed, ended in multi-million-dollar verdicts in favor of the plaintiffs.

“Herbicides kill the soil life,” said Julie Rawson, director of organic farming group NOFA Mass and farmer of Many Hands organic farm. She believes the pesticides used on the farm where she grew up caused her chronic thyroid problems. “In order for plants to photosynthesize, we need soil microorganisms … The pesticides kill all of those microorganisms and then the soil becomes dead, [leading to] problems with … erosion.”

Delta Carney of PATH (People Against Toxic Herbicides)-Ashfield, said that, at the very least, banning the spraying of glyphosate on school property was “a no-brainer.” As a child, “we never got the chance to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to being exposed to [the chemicals]. That’s ridiculous,” Carney said.

Beasley Allen is investigating cases involving non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma related to the commercial application of Roundup/glyphosate. For more information or to discuss a possible claim, contact John Tomlinson, Danielle Ingram, Michael Dunphy or Rhon Jones.

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