UC Berkeley alumna and former Cal beach volleyball player Mackenzie Feldman and her former teammate and campus senior Bridget Gustafson spoke out against the use of glyphosate-based herbicides on campus in fall 2017. Almost two years later, on May 14, UC President Janet Napolitano issued a temporary suspension, with several exceptions, on the use of glyphosate-based herbicides at all UC locations because of health concerns and ecological hazards.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, website, glyphosate is a widely used herbicide that controls weeds and grasses. Though the EPA fact sheet classifies glyphosate as having “low oral and dermal acute toxicity” and places it in Toxicity Category III — the second-lowest toxicity level — according to Feldman, lawsuits against Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer product indicate that the product has harmful health effects, including cancer.
A society and environment major with a minor in food systems, Feldman was first alerted to the possible harmful effects of glyphosate at her home in Hawaii, where she said it was used as part of the prevalent industrial agriculture.