David Hughes (October 15) wants the weed-killer glyphosate phased out because a jury in the USA decided it was the cause of a groundkeeper's lymphoma.

I agree that excessive and careless use of glyphosate can cause harm. Argentine farmers grow 30 million tonnes of GM soybeans each year, and to kill the weeds in these crops, they use about 300,000 tonnes of glyphosate, much of it applied by aircraft. Careless flying practices have allowed large volumes of spray to drift on to nearby villages, and many people living there consequently report much higher than average cases of skin rashes, asthma, cancer and abortions.

Ohakune farmers sprayed no more than a tonne or so of glyphosate on to grass paddocks near Ohakune last month, as they do every year before planting vegetables.

Low volumes of spray are carefully applied from tractors with nozzles close to the ground, so there is no spray drift. Any residual glyphosate is destroyed by soil bacteria.
Only on hillsides in the back country far from our villages are aircraft used to spray glyphosate, in preparation for growing winter crops. Council contractors and domestic users here also apply small amounts with close-to-the-ground nozzles. There have been no higher-than-usual rates of cancer or other problems here.


However, there have been large numbers of cancer cases all over New Zealand from the excessive and careless use of diesel, meat, alcohol, tobacco, and oestrogens like BPA that leach from plastic containers.

May I suggest we concentrate our efforts on encouraging the moderate and careful use of all these toxic substances rather than demonising a cheap and beneficial chemical that reduces erosion, reduces the amount of harmful CO2 produced by farm machinery, and also reduces the cost of producing healthy food for New Zealanders.


More to viaduct win

Re: The Chronicle story about the South Rangitikei viaduct winning an award for outstanding concrete structures:

I believe there was so much more that should have been told about this story.

It was overseen from Wanganui (for NZR, former "WC" building Taupo Quay) by NZR engineering staff led by a Peter Ellery (still a resident of Wanganui), and built by Codelfa-Cogefar, an Italian heavy construction company, which won a worldwide tender.

I wondered at the time of the Morandi Bridge disaster in Genoa, Italy, in August if Codelfa-Cogefar also built that bridge.



Bonobo and atheist

In 2013 Frans De Waal released a book called The Bonobo and the Atheist, subtitled In Search of Humanism Among the Primates.

It is in our library and could provide Mandy Donne-Lee with a measured, balanced and scholarly corrective to the views expressed in her letter,"Pleasing God" of October 1.

In particular, the book gives pause to notions of a special and personal relationship between humankind and "God", as distinct from, especially, mammals.


Climate change threat

In response to Monday's letter, "Me first age", from the chief executive of the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce, Arun Chaudhari:

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report (SR15) released earlier this month concludes Governments around the world must take "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society" to avoid disastrous levels of global warming.

The cause of global warming is the ongoing and increasing amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, mostly caused by burning fossil fuels. We are not reducing our dependence on fossil fuels but increasing the use of them, in particular in transportation. This is evidence-based. To say otherwise is only an assertion with no evidence to back it.

Of the Government's decision to halt offering new (not existing) offshore oil and gas exploration permits, Arun Chaudhari says, "Some major decisions are being made for which there has not been the rigorous thinking, and consideration of consequences." Further on he says such decisions "destroy economies and communities".

The Government's decision shows bold and necessary leadership and is only one of many that needed if we are to have an impact on climate change. Mr Chaudhari asserts the oil and gas industry in Taranaki can transition "alongside" renewables. We need to see this in action, and in abundance, right now. We need to see the evidence that this scenario is effective in reducing CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

Mr Chaudhari goes on to say "this transition needs evidence-based preparation, proper consultation and a thorough economic and social impact study". The proper consultation and a thorough economic and social impact study on the effects of climate change on a global scale are clearly stated in IPCC reports since 1992.

The latest IPCC report shows that any form of carrying on as we are only makes matters worse for us all — "disastrous" it uses. That surely means the destruction of economies and communities.

No matter how tough it's going to be, we all are required to think and plan immediately for a different sustainable away from fossil fuels. That is the only effective transition possible. There is only a rapidly diminishing future for fossil fuels.


Trades training

The recent article by Frank Greenall on the housing shortage and the need for more apprentices combined with the remembrance of women's suffrage has caused me to wonder if young women are being encouraged to take up trades apprenticeships.

Are there any similar grants, such as the recent one by NCW for academic students, or other incentives, and is there any supervision to make sure they are well trained and treated? What is the situation here in Wanganui?

Do schools have some programmes? It is a long programme and so there is a need to start early.


Foxton racecourse

Otaki races abandoned once again ...

Come on, Neil Goodwin (NZ Thoroughbred Racing stipendiary steward), make the decision to reopen Foxton racecourse as you know the track better than most.

Please give us the green light to have horse racing on one of the best tracks in New Zealand, as it is well overdue.

Foxton Beach

Send your letters to: The Editor, Whanganui Chronicle, 100 Guyton St, PO Box 433, Wanganui 4500; or email editor@wanganuichronicle.co.nz