Invasive herbicides

This is an archived article that was published on in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

If "beetles, goats, and sheep" are effective in controlling invasive plants, why does Utah's "war" on such plants prioritizes herbicide spraying ("Phone app, $1.3M aimed at helping Utah win the weed war," Tribune, June 11)?

Despite manufacturers' claims of innocuousness, the chemicals typically used are hazardous to environmental health.

Worse, such spraying has been shown to not only be ineffective in controlling invasive plants, but counterproductive. A study in Montana by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that herbicide spraying actually increased the spread of the target plant.

Spraying creates superweeds, leading to greater applications of more toxic chemicals. Spraying also ignores the causes of the spread of invasives, especially human disturbance and development of land.

This amounts to a massive handout to herbicide companies, poisoning the land and jeopardizing public health in the process. The state should use the safer, effective, biological controls rather than waste money and health on a futile chemical war.

Jonathan Jensen

Salt Lake City