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Use pesticides wisely 


As a lifelong organic gardener, I never thought I’d see the day when I would come to the defense of herbicides. But it was actually my love of native plants and wildlife that forced me to challenge my blanket opposition to the use of any herbicides.

I came to realize they were a necessary tool against the rising tide of invasive species—a leading cause of extinction, second only to habitat loss. I grudgingly came to accept that they were a necessary evil, not unlike radiation to treat cancer or fluoride to stop cavities. I opt for other methods when I can and also favor the use of the least-toxic chemical for a job.

Glyphosate is one such chemical that has a very low toxicity to fish and wildlife. It works by acting on an enzyme found in plants, but not in animals. Glyphosate binds tightly to soil and rapidly degrades into organic compounds. It is useful for spot applications, such as killing re-sprouts on eucalyptus. I suspect the emissions from a chainsaw are more toxic to the environment, but of course, Dane Jones can’t mention those because his car probably spews out even more (“Do not tamper with Sweet Springs,” Nov. 24).

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