The Key West City Commission has banned the use of a popular weed killer on city-owned property, a week after a California jury ordered Monsanto, the maker of the weed killer, to pay $2 billion in damages to a couple who said they contracted cancer from the product.
Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, may no longer be used by city workers but the new law stops short of trying to ban the herbicide on private property.
The commission voted 6-0 in favor of the ban. Commissioner BIlly Wardlow was absent.
“We were hoping to set an example and show that other products can be used that are safe,” said Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, who sponsored the resolution, which the city has sent to county leaders, the school district and other agencies such as the state Department of Agriculture.
“We didn’t want to do a citywide ban,” Weekley said. “We thought it would be too difficult to control. It was a resolution passed in other communities.”
The ban is also meant to provide safe workplaces for city workers and is an attempt to stave off any lawsuits connected to claims that Roundup causes cancer.
“I’ve noticed on television there are ads now for people who have been in contact with it to be part of a class-action suit,” Weekley said. “We’re trying to be ahead of the game on that.”
Roundup has been blamed for causing cancer in users in thousands of lawsuits against Monsanto’s owner Bayer, which denies such allegations and says the product is safe.
Bayer said it will appeal the $2 billion verdict.
A former groundskeeper in California last year won a $289 million verdict after a jury found that Roundup caused Johnson’s cancer. The jury award was later reduced by a judge to $78 million.
Bayer is facing roughly 11,000 similar lawsuits across the country, the Associated Press has reported.
Many locals praised the ban, saying chemicals aren’t needed to control weeds in the Keys.
“I make my own hippie weed killer from white vinegar, salt, and Dawn,” said Jennifer Rockford. “Does the job safely, harms nothing except weeds, and the only drawback is a salad smelling yard for a bit.”
Rockford said iodized salt is the most effective ingredient to use on weeds.
The Village of Islamorada is considering a ban on glyphosate and other herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers, but it would only be seasonal, for the rainy summer season, and it remains tentative.