At last night’s Irvine city council meeting, more than 100 people gathered to support Non Toxic Irvine, a grassroots organization whose mission is to eliminate the use of toxic pesticides in public areas, parks, athletic fields and city-maintained landscaping. After multiple cases of pediatric cancer and chronic health issues plagued families in Irvine, the parent-based organization petitioned for the city to become the first in OC to adopt chemical-free practices.
“I’m personally pleased to bring this item before the council tonight,” said council member Christina Shea, as she opened up discussion. “I am a cancer surviver myself, as I know many of you are,” she said. “I’ve also looked into the ill-effects of the myriad of chemicals that are in our homes, our environment and that surround us every day.”
For years, Irvine has drenched the surfaces of it’s city with Roundup (the Monsanto-branded herbicide) and pesticides in order to keep the town’s pristine, cookie-cutter appearance. Yet multiple studies prove that these chemicals yield horrific side effects, ranging from liver and /or kidney damage, birth defects, adverse neurological disorders, behavioral disorders and several types of cancer.
“Scientific research on the affects of pesticide exposure [during pregnancy] shows a direct link to childhood cancers,” said UCI professor Dr. Dean Baker to the city council. “Exposure to these chemicals are detrimental for everyone,” Baker said. “Pesticides are designed to kill.” Sadly, children are the most vulnerable to the toxicity of these chemicals. As kids are constantly on grass and in parks, there’s rarely a day where children aren’t exposed to pesticides or Roundup— especially if they’re involved in outdoor sports. “Irvine Pony is the largest youth baseball program in Irvine,” said father and youth baseball coach James Canty, as he stood in front of the city council with his two sons dressed in baseball uniforms. “This topic is particularly difficult, as one of Irvine Pony’s family members, an 11-year-old all-star, was recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor,” Canty said. “We stand here for him.”
Audience members and council members wiped their eyes, as the stories of young cancer patients and their traumas continued. “For those of you who’ve had cancer, I know how it feels,” said Charlie, a young boy who stood independently in front of the council. “When I had cancer it was the worst thing that could ever happen to me,” he said. “I had to skip school, take a shot once a day and they hurt so much. This is why we should stop using pesticides.”
Some argued that the use of pesticides and Monsanto-made Roundup is a violation of our basic rights because no one would choose for chemical exposure, thus making it critical to eliminate these toxins as soon as possible. “I will support anyone who doesn’t support Monsanto,” said Cardina, an Irvine business owner and mother.
A total of 30 residents spoke in front of Mayor Steven Choi and his panel before the vote passed 5-0, making Irvine the first city in Orange County to become pesticide and herbicide free. “We want to continue to set the standard,” said Mayor Choi. “This is a big step in the right direction.”