Trevecca students concerned about chemical used on campus

by Montgomery Sparrow

A Trevecca student is calling for a change in use of lawn care chemicals that could be harmful.

Jenna Daughtry, a senior social justice major, is working to raise awareness of the potential danger of using herbicides on campus with the chemical Glyphosate.

Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide, especially found in the product Round-Up. Glyphosate has been thought to be dangerous for decades, but recent studies bolster the argument that the chemical is harmful. In March 2015, 17 experts from 11 countries deemed glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

“We use it on our campus to get weeds in tree lines and fences,” said Jason Adkins, Environmental Projects Coordinator. “And I feel if we don’t have a campus wide moratorium on these chemicals, it will end up in the places where our students are sitting, in the places where we are growing food to eat, and the places where our bees forage.”

While Adkins is meeting with campus administrators to discuss possible alternatives, Daughtry is trying to mobilize students. She created the Facebook group, Students against harmful chemicals on campus, to raise awareness about Trevecca’s use of Glyphosate. Her interest began when she was working on a project for her Environmental Justice class.

Glen Linthicum, Director of Plants Operations, said he is in conversation with Adkins and others about possible alternatives and that Trevecca only uses EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) approved chemicals and only hires contractors that are EPA licensed.

Adkins believes that glyphosate was the cause of the collapse of last years on-campus bee hive. He said that there are several factors to be consider to cause a colonies’ collapse but points to glyphosate for being the tipping point.

Glyphosate is a hallucinogen to the bees; and the bees  in contact with it are unable to find their way back to their hive, Daughtry says.

Jason Adkins is having conversations with the lawn care company hired by Trevecca and Trevecca’s administration in an effort to find alternative methods. One alternative is to resort to using workers or volunteers to pull or trim weeds. A second alternative is to experiment with safer chemicals. Adkins said he has a potential donor for safer chemicals.

Linthicum said he is open to other alternatives, but is limited by both budget and the responsibility for a professional up-keep of campus.

Organic methods could either be more expensive or less effective and hiring more people to do the work isn’t an option, Linthicum said.  More volunteers would be needed on the farm to make homemade chemicals or pull weeds.

“They are more then welcome to continue their advocacy for a more holistic approach.” said Linthicum. “If the holistic approach works and works very well with the application that I need to use it, and if it were inexpensive; I would do so.”

Daughtry plans to host a forum in the future to screen the film “A Chemical Reaction”, a 2009 documentary about Hudson, Quebecs banning of toxic pesticides.

To join Jenna Daughtry’s Facebook group, go to Students against harmful chemicals on campus.

To volunteer at Trevecca’s Urban Farm, email Jason Adkins at jadkins@trevecca.edu.

To inquire more about Plant Operations’ methods and guidelines for lawn care, email Glen Linthicum at glinthicum@trevecca.edu. 

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