Discussion features Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) lawyer Margaret Hsieh
Hoylman: “Monarchs are the canary in the coal mine, warning us about the devastating effect that human activity is inflicting on the environment, both through climate change and our over-reliance on pesticides like glyphosate.”
New York, NY – Last night, State Senator Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) hosted a discussion at NYU Law School on the pesticide glyphosate and its devastating effects on the Monarch butterfly, human health, and New York’s environment. The event – the first in Senator Hoylman’s “Conservation Conversation” series –featured Margaret Hsieh, a member of the litigation team for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Earlier this year, NRDC filed suit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claiming the agency has failed to heed warnings about glyphosate’s danger to monarchs, whose population, tallied at 1 billion in 1997, was down to a mere 56.5 million in 2015. Monarch butterflies are important pollinators that help sustain New York’s ecosystem and affect the economic vitality of both national and international agricultural markets.
In addition to its danger to monarchs, a recent meta-analysis study by the World Health Organization concluded that glyphosate “is probably carcinogenic to humans.” Glyphosate, first created by Monsanto 1970, is commonly known as Roundup and is the most widely-used herbicide in the world. Senator Hoylman, the Ranking Member on the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, is the main sponsor of two bills in the Senate that would ban the sale, distribution, or usage of glyphosate in New York State Enacts and create a Glyphosate Task Force to research and identify health and safety concerns with the pesticide.
Senator Brad Hoylman said: “As New Yorkers, we value the presence of natural beauty in our urban environment. Yet over the course of a decade we’ve witnessed the decimation of one of the most stunning and environmentally important creatures – the monarch butterfly. Monarchs are the canary in the coal mine, warning us about the devastating effect that human activity is inflicting on the environment, both through climate change and our over-reliance on pesticides like glyphosate. This Conservation Conversation series is an effort to speak frankly about these issues and figure out what we can do to preserve some of our most treasured natural species and environments.”
Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who attended the event, said: “During their seasonal migration, you used to walk on Fire Island and be enveloped by monarchs. Now, you’re excited when you see a handful. The loss of monarchs in the Northeast is dramatic and startling. We need to fight back and organize to protect the environment otherwise we will soon become the pests that disappear due to environmental degradation.”
Margaret Hsieh from NRDC said: “The pervasive use of pesticides like Roundup have had a devastating impact on monarch butterflies. Whereas migrating monarchs used to darken the skies, some people are now lucky to see five or ten butterflies in an entire season. State action, like the bill sponsored by Sen. Hoylman, is critical in reversing the 90 percent decline in the monarch population and pushing the federal government to respond to the harm posed by glyphosate.”
Last night’s Conservation Conversation was co-sponsored by Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Senator Daniel Squadron, Senator Liz Krueger, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, Council Member Margaret Chin, Council Member Rosie Mendez, Council Member Corey Johnson, Council Member Dan Garodnick, Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Manhattan Community Board 2, Manhattan Community Board 3, Manhattan Community Board 4, Manhattan Community Board 5, Manhattan Community Board 6, Manhattan Community Board 7, Natural Resources Defense Council, and NYU Law Democrats.