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Stop spraying private or public property in Monsanto's 'Rodeo' or other herbicides without full disclosure and explicit consent!

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On the morning of July 23rd, I answered an unexpected knock on my door.

I was on already on the phone, in my sweats, and without make up. But answering that knock brought about a series of events I could never have predicted.

 On my doorstep was a foreman from Vegetation Control Service, Inc., based out of Athol, MA.

He represented an herbicidal company that had been contracted by Vermont Electric Cooperative. My power company.

You can imagine my surprise and puzzlement.

According the herbicidal foreman, Vermont Electric Cooperative was unhappy with the amount of money they had to spend fixing power outages.

In other words, they want to spend as little time as possible trimming trees or fixing power lines.

Vermont Electric Cooperative is trying to save money for themselves (not for us) by spraying three different chemicals, one of which is the Monsanto-created chemical, 'Rodeo', all over public and private properties.

I appreciated the foreman's honesty. The door-knob style pamphlet Vermont Electric is distributing, however, is far from honest.

Firstly, and perhaps most shockingly, the pamphlet is titled "Herbicide Application Scheduled."

This deceives the reader into assuming this is a pre-approved procedure and Vermont Electric Cooperative is only courteously informing the land owner.

No where does it clarify that you have the option of saying "no".

Because of its deceptive lay-out and deliberate omission of critical information, most people would interpret this door-knob style pamphlet as a courtesy notice of a decided matter, nothing more.

This allows Vermont Electric Cooperative to skillfully slip through the legal loop hole of "Right Of Way", deftly past the obligations of choice and disclosure in a bid to save themselves money at our expense, and at the environment's expense.

The most obvious on contact information provided on the pamphlet is that of the foreman - to tell him where your well is. At the very bottom are company numbers supplied to field your questions as "this work is carried out."

Secondly, the pamphlet does not list the chemicals being used.

The foreman had to disclose these toxic chemicals to me in person. In total, there are three. One of which is Monsanto's 'Rodeo', an herbicide which has been implicated in grave consequences for humans and the environment.

The active ingredient in most herbicides is glyphosate, an endrocine distruptor and carcinogen. 

However, the active ingredients in herbicides are far from the only danger.

The inactive ingredients in herbicides are not just highly toxic chemicals, but secret highly toxic chemicals.

These inactive ingredients are legally considered to be trade secrets and thus are not required to be disclosed. They are potent chemicals designed to preserve, deliver, and stabilize the active ingredients and they are highly hazardous to all organisms, including humans.

No where on the pamphlet does it say that Vermont Electric Cooperative's primary goal is to save themselves money, as the foreman disclosed to me.

The pamphlet has an audacious list of bullet points propagandizing the benefits of their "scheduled" herbicide application.

The bullet points hide under the guise of public interests and, most galling, environmental interests. It simultaneously occludes full disclosure, explicit land owner choice, and how to exercise that choice.

Vermont Electric Cooperative and the foreman are not returning my polite calls. I pose these three questions to them and to all power companies who attempt a similar ruse:

1. What right does Vermont Electric Cooperative have to choose for me whether I prefer the risk of branches next to power lines, or Monsanto's 'Rodeo' all over my land?

2. How can the company claim to be concerned about my welfare when a) the company utterly occludes the fact that I have the option to say "no", b) the company does not disclose the chemicals they propose to use and c) the company has the conflicting interest of wanting to save themselves money?

3. If your intentions are truly in the interest of the public and there are so many benefits to what you propose to do, why are you hiding so much?

One of the many laughable claims the pamphlet makes is that spraying will be beneficial to biodiversity amongst plants and wildlife.

As someone who works closely with wildlife rehabilitators, I can tell you there is no more truth to this than there is in saying, "setting fire to all my trees will make room for more butterflies".

Of course space is created when something is removed, but it's not necessarily beneficial.

Furthermore, it's not simply the removal of hardwoods - it's the addition of chemicals. These directly affect animal life, including nesting birds. I have a colleague who received a deformed baby bird this spring from such chemical use.

The pamphlet repeats these baseless bullet points, desperately lauding the benefits of their proposed herbicidal spraying to the environment, re-hashing buzz words like a half-way decent commercial.

The pamphlet also claims herbicide is the only feasible control method for invasive species. This is blatantly not true. Like the foreman said, Vermont Electric Cooperative is looking for "the most cost-effective option".

In other words, they don't want to spend time trimming or untangling.

It's cheaper for them to spray toxic herbicides all over parks, all over roads, and all over your land.

As a Vermont citizen, I am shocked and devastated that my local power company would prefer to spray Monsanto's herbicide 'Rodeo' all over my private property rather than trim trees like a power company should, and furthermore, this same local company appears to be willing to trick me into allowing it.

Vermonters and Americans: The actions of Vermont Electric Cooperative and its shameful pamphlet do not represent lawful choice, value for our state or our country, fair capitalism, or even concern for our children.

This must be stopped.

I demand that Vermont Electric Cooperative retract these shameful pamphlets and issue a full and humble apology to all its customers, free of an attempt to justify or rationalize their actions.

I demand that starting immediately, all requests to spray private property with herbicides of any kind provide explicit disclosure of the proposed chemicals, the health and environmental risks associated with those chemicals, the option to say no, and how to exercise that choice.

By signing this petition, whether or not you live in Vermont, you stand for corporate accountability, basic human rights, and a fearless understanding of what you are entitled to: choice.

To our power to choose,

Cate Fhionnain, Westford VT.

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