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Maine Legislature Approves Ban On Aerial Spraying Of Herbicides In Forests

The Maine Senate has joined the House in approving a bill sponsored by Sen. President Troy Jackson and backed by environmental and public health organizations to ban the aerial spraying of toxic herbicides in forestry applications. The bill now heads to the governor's desk for final action.

In timber management, herbicides are used to control vegetation that may compete with more valuable species like spruce and fir. Foresters say aerial application is the most efficient way to do the job and that the practice is used sparingly in Maine, on less than 4% of harvested acres each year.

But critics point to growing evidence that glyphosate, which is the central ingredient in aerial herbicides, can be toxic to humans and animals. Glyphosate has been declared a "probable carcinogen" by the World Health Organization and has been banned in several countries as well as by states and municipalities, including Sen. President Troy Jackson's hometown of Allagash.

Jackson says he's hopeful Gov. Janet Mills will sign the bill into law to protect the health of people working and living in northern Maine. She has ten days to sign it, veto it or allow it to become law without her signature.