Why not use safe & effective, household/food grade, undiluted "5% Vinegar" to control plant growth on streets, sidewalks, and around park facilities, instead of using toxic chemicals, such as Roundup's Glyphosate?

Ask Mayor Kenney and City Council for Freedom from Toxic Herbicides! 

June 27, 2017

Hi  everyone – As we near Fourth of July weekend 2017 I’m asking you to contact Mayor Kenney and City Council to ask for freedom from Roundup and other toxic herbicides used in Philadelphia’s schools and parks. The science has been clear for decades - that Roundup is toxic to people and the planet.  Why are we allowing the spraying to continue?

The good news is that the city is experimenting with using undiluted 5% household vinegar instead of commercial herbicides in one district, which was in response to a successful experiment we conducted last year at Boelsen Cottage in Fairmount Park.  The bad news is that you will never know where Roundup has been used in all the other parks, so that people, pets, and wild life remain at risk.

To learn more about toxic herbicides, go to Health Alert Philly’s page on Toxic Free Parks: and read Dr. Mercola’s latest article

Lynn Landes and Louise Francis, Co-Founders, Health Alert Philly;;;;;;;;; brian.o';;;;;;;;

From Phyllis Rubin, Board Member, GMO Free PA  (

Mayor Kenney and City Council might also want to know the following.  

1. The California state Environmental Protection Agency just passed a ruling that glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) is to be added to their list of chemicals known to cause cancer. It takes effect on July 7:

2. Here’s the link to the study (published by one of the most respected peer-reviewed science journals in the world) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer research section of the World Health Organization, which prompted the WHO to classify glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen:

3. Roundup is routinely sprayed on our food. For those who don’t already know, the vast, vast majority of food that is genetically engineered (known as GMO) is altered to be able to tolerate the killing effects of Roundup. Roundup/glyphosate is very effective plant killer because it is quickly transmitted systemically, cell to cell throughout the plant. But this also means that glyphosate is in virtually all processed foods. (Note that certified organic standards prohibit any genetically engineered ingredients.) 

The GMO crop idea is to spray the entire field with Roundup to kill weeds, while the GMO crop still stands. Transnational biotech corporations develop and sell both the GMO seeds and their accompanying herbicide. (Monsanto manufacturers Roundup and Roundup Ready seed.) In 2016’s growing season in the US, 94% of soy, 92% of corn, 95% of canola, 89% of cotton, and 100% of sugar beets were genetically engineered to be herbicide tolerant. (Corn and cotton are also engineered to secrete insecticide from every cell.) Overuse of the same herbicide has caused the problem of immune “superweeds,” which now infest 75% of commodity farm fields. This phenomenon has triggered a spiral of increasingly toxic herbicides applied to crops; a sort of pesticide versus weeds arms race.

Airborne herbicides and gene-altered pollen threatens wild plants, non-GMO crops, and organic certification of farms. Pesticide toxins (including neonicotinoid insecticide GMO seed treatment coatings) have destroyed soil fertility, caused widespread water pollution, genetic deformity of amphibians and fish, and massive colony   collapse of pollinators (bees, butterflies, and birds). 

In 2016, Phila City Council passed unanimously a resolution calling on the federal government to label genetically engineered food. The resolution was introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown.

Organic farming yields greater quantities and more nutrient-dense (and flavorful!) food. For now, the USDA organic standards still prohibit any genetic engineering in certified organic fresh or processed products. 

On Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 10:20 AM, Lynn Landes <> wrote:

Photos above taken Sept 18, 2016.

Subject: RE: Dead Vegetation All Along Kelly Drive, Please Stop the Spraying

Dear Mayor & City Council – It has been almost 2 months since I wrote to you about Kelly Drive, Martin Luther King Drive, and many other parts of Fairmount Park that were sprayed with a toxic herbicide. As you can see from the photos below (taken two months apart), the result continues to be an unsightly and unhealthy situation for people, pets, and nature in general. These dangerous chemicals get tracked inside homes where children and pets play on the floor. Also, people may nibble on a wild berry or eat a dandelion, not realizing that it’s been sprayed with toxic chemicals.

So, I am once again encouraging the city to ban any future use of toxic herbicides as a way to control plant growth in the city of Philadelphia.

As I recommended in my first email, it is best to use a machine or manually trim along a tree line. Many important plants, bushes, and trees thrive along the tree line and supply food for birds, bees, and other wild life, therefore any type of herbicide is not appropriate. However, to keep plant growth away from buildings, streets, and sidewalks, it is best to use 5% vinegar (food grade and undiluted). Vinegar works as well, or better, than Roundup and without its harmful consequences. For information on toxic herbicides and safe substitutes, please visit

I should also add that it appears that the state has been spraying all along the Schuylkill Expressway with similar unsightly and unhealthy results. Thank you for your attention and please let me know what I can do to assist in this matter.

Lynn Landes, Founder

From: Lynn Landes []
Sent: Friday, July 22, 2016 3:14 PM
To: ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; 'brian.o''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''; ''

Subject: Today: Dead Vegetation All Along Kelly Drive, Please Stop the Spraying

Dear Mayor & City Council – Please put a stop to herbicide spraying in Fairmount Park and throughout the city. In a week that should showcase how beautiful our city can be, the photo below of dead vegetation due to spraying is what visitors to Fairmount Park are seeing today - all along the east side of Kelly Drive and in spots on West River Drive. I don’t know who is responsible – the city or state – but whoever it is, they should be stopped from doing this ever again. I don’t know if the spray that was used was toxic Roundup or something safe, but most people will assume it is a toxic herbicide. Which is why the vegetation should be manually cut back and not sprayed with anything. In addition, as the founder of and The Wild Foodies of Philly (, an educational meetup group who studies the edible, medicinal, and other uses of wild plants, herbicide spraying puts at risk the health of people, pets, and nature. Thank you for your attention and my best to you and city council.

Lynn Landes, founder
217 S. Jessup Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107

human health cost of using glyphosate:

  • Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, is possibly "the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies”
  • Glyphosate residues are found in most commonly consumed foods in the Western diet courtesy of GM sugar, corn, soy, and wheat
  • Research suggests that glyphosate may “enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions [including gut bacteria] and induce disease”
  • Glyphosate may stimulate hormone-dependent cancers even at extremely low “environmentally relevant” amounts
  • If you buy processed food, opt for products bearing the USDA 100% Organic label, as organics do not permit GMOs

Environmental cost of using glyphosate:

Governments that have taken action against glyphosate and other toxic herbicides:

Those who support 5% vinegar instead of toxic herbicideS LIKE ROUNDUP's Glyphosate:

NOTE: Why not use 20% vinegar?  According to reliable sources, 20% vinegar is 99% acetic acid, dangerous to use, a petroleum derivative, and not organic (see and The strongest vinegar available in retail stores is 30% but it is far too strong and I do not recommend it. For general use, 20 percent or 200 grain is available but it is stronger than needed. At this strength it is corrosive enough to eat metal and must be handled carefully in plastic containers. It is also dangerous to breathe….Vinegar that is made from the petroleum derivative, 99% acetic acid, is not acceptable in an organic program.)

•  Bristol, England:  

•  Colorado Resident Starts a Petition:  

•  Use vinegar to kill weeds naturally and give Monsanto's Roundup the heave ho: 

•  Hands Down the Best Way to Kill Weeds and It’s Not Roundup: 

•  Weeds in Paths? Use Vinegar, Not Roundup: 

•  Vinegar as an Herbicide?            

From NPRs “You Bet Your Garden” >>> Philly radio host Mike McGrath

"Round Up" Your Weeds Without Nasty Chemicals!

Question. Dear Mike: Our church has gone "green", but the grounds people still insist on using Roundup. Our local school district's IPM (Integrated Pest Management) manager told me they have not used Roundup since the late 1980's and recommended that the Church stop using it as well. He said that the 'inactive' ingredients (stickers, spreaders, etc.) are more toxic than the active ingredient! Perhaps this would be a good subject for your show...

----Mary Kane;Main Line Unitarian Church, Radnor, PA

Answer. Thank you, Mary! It's been WAY too long since I went on a good garden chemical tirade! I always assume that people realize the extreme dangers posed by herbicides and other garden poisons. But I tend to forget how bombarded they are with ads imploring them to use the junk, often implying that the toxins are somehow harmless. (Like when Monsanto says that their Roundup is harmless as table salt-which is actually kind of true, since salt is one of the most corrosive substances on the planet.)

And yes, evidence strongly suggests that Roundup's so-called 'inert ingredients' (a decision often made solely by the manufacturer) are even worse than the 'active' ingredient, the extremely nasty chemical glyphosate. That's why, when Monsanto talks about their popular Calliban of weed killers, they always say "the active ingredient in Roundup does this or that". They never talk about the actual product,which kills earthworms and beneficial insects, has been linked tonon-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and is taken up internally by any plants it doesn't kill-so if you foolishly use it to control weeds in your veggie garden, you'll be eating Round-Up for the next two years. Yum.

You can get all the scary details from one of my favorite organizations, Beyond Pesticides. I'll post a direct link to their factsheet on glyphosate with this Question of the Week. You can also visit their home site at

I actually prefer to let others do the scaring you to death part.(Which is more than just a phrase in this case-although they're actually scaring you AWAY from death). My job is to turn you on to the many non-toxic alternatives to poisons like Roundup-like my Fantastic Four of Weed Warriors: Flame, heat, soap and vinegar!

But of course, I MUST first mention mulch. An inch of shredded fall leaves, straw, or clippings from an herbicide-free lawn is your best defense against garden weeds. DO NOT USE WOOD CHIPS, SHREDDED BARK,SAWDUST, "COLORED MULCH" OR OTHER WOOD PRODUCTS AROUND PLANTS-they steal nitrogen from the soil and prevent water from reaching roots.Don't use them within 30 feet of your home or car either-unless you like impossible-to-remove shotgun fungus stains.

…and 'mechanical controls'!  I use a weed whacker on the grass that grows in the lanes between my raised beds. I used to use woods chips in the lanes-a place in which they are perfectly safe-but I've come to prefer whacking once a month. The grass 'captures' nutrients that leach out of the beds, and then I 'harvest' it for mulch and compost making. Plus I get to make a lot of noise and get all dirty and then run through the sprinkler.

OK, your top four non-toxic alternatives to nasty chemical herbicides are:



No 'weed whacking wound up' would be complete without an incendiary device now, would it?  Flame weeders are great; you just attach a small, 'camp stove' size propane bottle to the long metal wand, click it on, wave the fiery tip over the tops of plants you dislike and they dehydrate and die. Perennials, like dandelions, may require a second treatment-or you can just linger there a while and really toast the suckers.

My personal favorite-BernzOmatic's "OutdoorTorch"-is available at hardware and garden stores, or direct from BernzOmatic for about forty bucks, including shipping; call them toll-free at 1-800-654-9011. Get Model JT 850; its push-button ignition makes it much safer to use. There are many similar devices out there,as well as larger flamers that use refillable gas-grill sized propane tanks and adapters that let you hook big tanks up to the smaller,hand-held devices.

Note: Be careful not to burn yourself or set dry brush or mulch on fire with these things. Always wear protective footwear and have a primed garden hose handy in case of emergency. And NEVER, EVER burn poison ivy, oak, sumac or similar plants.


Instead of open flame, Swiss made "Infra-Weeders" use propane to produce 1800º of radiant heat that 'cooks' weeds away!  The"Dandy Destroyer" has a two-inch round spiked head that you plunge into the hearts of dandelions and similar long-rooted weeds to send them to their Eternal Reward. The "Eliminator" withers weeds in patios and walkways with a 3 x 7 inch heated plate. About $200 apiece (American)from the Canadian company Ritten house; on the web at


Herbicidal soap sprays kill weeds by smothering them with a soap bubble-like film. Gardens Alive (; 812-537-8650)calls their herbicidal soap "Weed-Aside"(say it out loud). And you'll find products like Concern's "Fast Acting Weed Killer" in classier retail stores. Read the labels carefully-the active ingredient should say something like "potassium salts of fatty acids".


A POWERFUL herbicide! (So be careful not to splash your 'wanted' plants!) You can just fill a spray bottle with regular old white vinegar and spritz away, or use products like "BurnOut Weed Killer"from St. Gabriel Labs (800-801-0061; The original version-a mixture of vinegar and lemon juice-was very effective. "BurnOut II" (the sequel!) also contains clove oil, which they say makes it even better.

Note: Soap, flame, heat and vinegar all work best when the weeds you want to waste are nice and dry and a hot sun is beating down. Don't use them on a cool, cloudy or wet day. If it's rained recently, give the plants a day to dry out-or pull them by hand, which is MUCH easier in wet soil.

You Bet Your Garden   ©2004 Mike McGrath