Owner of Point Reyes hardware store quits selling glyphosate products

08/29/2018

Point Reyes Station’s Building Supply Center will no longer carry products containing the chemical glyphosate, an herbicide and ingredient in the weed-killer Roundup. Ken Dunaj, who owns the hardware store, said some customers had been asking for the discontinuation for years, but that until recently overall demand for glyphosate products had remained strong. The store’s new policy comes on the heels of a lawsuit in which the agrochemical company Monsanto was ordered to pay $289 million in damages to a school groundskeeper who said the company never warned him of Roundup’s potential cancer risks and who is now suffering from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Since the case was decided last month, the number of lawsuits in the United States regarding Roundup has risen to 8,000. Mr. Dunaj, a former chief operating officer of Restoration Hardware who bought the small store in 2015, said his decision had nothing to do with the Monsanto lawsuit, but instead with an article he read about traces of glyphosate being found in Cheerios. That, he said, was the final straw. Still, a decline in glyphosate sales was also a significant factor. “Though [the discontinuation] will inconvenience some, overall there isn’t high demand,” he said. “Then the recent thing that I read triggered an emotional reaction, because of children, and I decided I’m going to go ahead and pull it off the shelves.” (Mr. Dunaj has a son in fifth grade at West Marin School and coaches soccer and basketball.) In 2015, after the World Health Organization ranked glyphosate as a probable carcinogen, West Marin residents concerned about potential health impacts contested the use of glyphosate on county lands for killing non-native grasses. Marin parks officials subsequently halted the chemical’s use, and two years ago the parks department received over $190,000 for a campaign to raise awareness of the impacts and alternatives to pesticide use on residential properties. In 2016, the county managed nearly 86 percent of its sites without pesticides, including glyphosate, but the chemical is licensed for federal use and is applied locally to control the spread of invasive grasses in the Point Reyes National Seashore “as a last resort,” said park spokesman John Dell'Osso.