Rev. Billy ratchets up pressure to ban RoundUp

BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH | Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping want the City Council to “cast out” Monsanto’s demonic spawn by passing Councilmember Ben Kallos’s bill banning chemical pesticides and herbicides in the city.

The singing reverend, real name Bill Talen, and his choir protested in City Hall Park on May 8, to keep up the pressure on the city to stop using Bayer AG’s bestselling weed killer, RoundUp. The herbicide’s active ingredient, glyphosate, has been linked to causing cancer and other health problems. RoundUp was originally manufactured by the Monsanto corporation but it sold the product to Bayer for $63 billion last year.

As his choir members staged a RoundUp-induced die-in, activist Reverend Billy took a knee and wiped away a tear during a protest against the carcinogenic herbicide at City Hall Park. The activists hope the City Council will pass Councilmember Ben Kallos’s bill banning use of all chemical pesticides and herbicides in city parks. (Photo by Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech)

(Photo by Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech)

According to the activist performance group, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation used the spray in parks last summer. And according to a representative from Kallos’s office, the Parks Department is not a fan of the bill.

A map on Reverend Billy’s Web site ( claims to show where glyphosate has been used by the Parks Department around the city.

The Upper East Side councilmember reintroduced the bill on April 18, adding himself to the list of city and state legislators pushing to ban the herbicide, which the World Health Organization classified as a carcinogen in 2015. Hawaii became the first state to ban RoundUp in 2018.

As members of the Stop Shopping Choir sang an anti-RoundUp song to the trees in City Hall Park, above, Reverend Billy gave a sermon on the dangers of the popular weed killer, whose active ingredient has shown to cause health problems in humans. (Photo by Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech)

Reverend Billy and his hazmat-suit-clad choir pray for the day the parks will be free of toxic pesticides and herbicides. (Photo by Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech)

“Parks should be for playing, not pesticides,” Kallos said in a statement.

Shortly after Kallos reintroduced the bill, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reaffirmed its stance that glyphosate does not cause cancer.

The Parks Department said, in the past five years, it has made more of an effort to reduce spraying herbicides and instead use alternative methods — like pulling weeds out by hand, mulching and putting in weed-suppressive plants.

“When that fails, or when resources do not allow, we spray approved herbicides in complete compliance with New York City, New York State and federal laws,” a Parks spokesperson wrote in an e-mail to this paper.

12 Responses to Rev. Billy ratchets up pressure to ban RoundUp

  1. “glyphosate, has been shown to cause cancer and other health problems” really? Since when? No citation. There are no documented cases of glyphosate exposure directly causing cancer. Ever.

    “Animal and human studies were evaluated by regulatory agencies in the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, and the European Union, as well as the Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues of the United Nations and World Health Organization (WHO). These agencies looked at cancer rates in humans and studies where laboratory animals were fed high doses of glyphosate.” —citation:

    Now if 7+ international agencies have concluded that CONSUMING high levels of glyphosate is not likely carcinogenic, brushing up against a plant with glyphosate isn’t going to cause any harm especially considering we don’t eat the plants in public parks.

    I’ve heard of zero New Yorkers dying from public-park exposure herbicide treatment nor anyone getting health-related problems directly linked to Round-Up in city parks.

    There was a court case where someone directly and repeatedly sprayed concentrated pesticides directly on their skin due to not following safety precautions. Though the 70-year old man’s cancer was not directly caused by the herbicide it was ruled it significantly contributed to his lymphoma. There are many ingredients in herbicide, not just glyphosate.

    Why is repeated concentrated weed-killer exposure potentially contributing to cancer to an elderly man? The same way Aspirin can cause liver damage. Taking one aspirin is fine, however, taking the whole bottle can be lethal or even a high dose frequently. Aspirin and all NSAIDs have warning labels. This particular weed-killer did not. Source:

    Glyphosate works by blocking amino acid synthesis pathways in plants. We don’t even have these pathways, that’s why we eat plants—our bodies do not make these amino acids and glyphosate does not block any of these pathways in our bodies. See edu link above for more info on how glyphosate works

    People find it unusual that some critique those who do not listen or believe in scientist with regards to vaccine safety and the reality of climate change, yet when it comes to genetic engineering or chemical science, these same people choose to ignore the data, ignore billions of dollars in studies, and have their convictions based solely on faith that impact rulings and laws.

    “the pesticides diazinon, glyphosate and malathion as “probably carcinogenic” from a hazard perspective (not risk)” Source:

    Again, these are hazards at a high concentration, but not a risk. The WHO page linked above outlines these differences between hazard and risk. In addition, this is regards to consuming these pesticides, not diluted exposure externally, say from a public park.

    This performance does seem like public theatrics: uninformed people in plastic suits posing and parading around

    “the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reaffirmed its stance that glyphosate does not cause cancer”—funny how this is also in the same article

    • Not THAT guest

      Soulless Monsanto propagandist!!!

      • Actually, the formula was purchased by Bayer. So if it was biased or misleading information, which is the definition of propaganda, it would be Bayer propaganda. However, I would not exactly call the World Health Organization biased or misleading. Monsanto sold the formula for like $62 billion I believe to Bayer.

        Without facts or scientific information, most will resort to just attacking a person’s character like calling them soul-less. When we find ourselves on the side of the popular option like in support of a ban, we must examine our perspective.

        Otherwise, we risk at harming a greater good using faith-based, emotional logic. Popular faith as such, has lead to bans of other concerns like in Alabama.

        I feel most people are anti-corporations rather than anti-science. Yes, these mega corps are driven by greed and profit, but it does not always mean they are creating something evil at the expense of the public health. Politicians will ban what the majority support, in this case, weed-killer.

        I’d say such theatrics are better reserved for more concerning problems plaguing our city like homelessness, fair housing, and transit which some politicians fail to acknowledge. Ban RoundUp, easy.

        • Not THAT guest

          If you prefer, Monsanto, Bayer(IG Farben) soulless propagandist.

          • I never mentioned the company name in my original logic, like Monsanto, nor my affiliation with any corporation. As I only stated a different perspective that may differ from your own, I am not biased to any company.

            It does lead to believe perhaps, you were a victim of propaganda and misinformation which led you to a conviction of hate towards a particular company without evaluating all data.

            If you dislike Monsanto, or Bayer, by all means they can utilize any brand of herbicide, pesticide, etc so long as the data shows it does not harm the environment or New Yorkers.

            Since glyphosate has been used since 1970 without the negative environmental effects other chemicals have had and no direct link to cancer in the almost 50 years since it’s been introduced, it does not indicate harm to public parks.

            Since you accept the definition of propaganda as using information to promote or publicize a point of view, I prefer, pro-scientific propagandist. If logic, precaution, and reason seems cold or soul-less, it is because science and analysis does not involve emotion or faith

          • I respond to your claims of “science” the same way I do when people use “science” as a basis for GMO pesticides and herbicides. You cannot scientifically prove these things safe. Gluten is an entirely organic compound that has been eaten for centuries. I think that provides adequate proof that it is safe. Tell that to my celiac wife. Wisdom transcends science. The lack of self restraint and lack of wisdom exercised by Bayer/Monsanto is truly a moral violation.

  2. Bayer has lost 30% of its valuation since the Dewayne Johnson trial last year, so you hired guns (referring to you "JJ") will soon have no source of income. The last trial by two cancer-sufferers in Livermore, California won a judgement of $2,000,000,000 – that's 2 billion, and with 14,000 lawsuits to go? You're in trouble my friend. This is your asbestos moment. You should put on your Hazmat suit and join us in City Hall Park, which is drenched in your toxins.

    • lol, sadly I don’t get paid to spread scientific information. I don’t care about the value of any company.

      Good for the couple on that settlement, I mean California is probably the only state that would help give billions from a large corporation to two people who need that money more than Bayer, regardless if their improper use of weed killer was one factor that contributed to cancer.

      Bayer and Monsanto are not good companies by any means, they made agent orange for the US government. The data however shows without a doubt, agent orange is highly toxic and mutagenic, the EPA has banned this and several international organizations have. Glyphosate, however is still the most common, most used for a reason: it is a plant-specific toxin not a human or environmental toxin. Heck, it won’t even kill some tough dandelions at times.

      Also, just read yesterday “Bayer is currently facing a total of 11,200 US cases over Roundup and its active ingredient glyphosate, which is the most popular weed killer in the US.” source:

      11,200 lawsuits isn’t really that many for a mega corporation like Bayer, and it’s 1,800 less than 14,000. Though again, I’m more about the data and facts rather than a brand or a company.

      From the same article, “Last month, the EPA reaffirmed prior guidance saying that glyphosate is not a carcinogen and not a risk to public health when used in accordance with its current label.” So it does not look very good for all those 11,200 lawsuits, because if people are using a product not as intended it can cause problems. The couple had claim because their product didn’t have that warning label.

      My real concern is if they instead use instead something toxic like rotenone, or copper sulfate, which perhaps Monsanto or Bayer sells some form of also—most organic and local farms use these instead of glyphosate or RoundUp brand.

      These fertilizers and herbicides which are used by organic farmers are the reason also why I avoid organic and local produce because these farmers use far more toxic chemicals and higher quantities of it instead of glyphosate. I always ask what pesticides local farmers use. You would be surprised how all of them do, or don’t consider natural pesticides.

      Like your example, people switched from traditional insulation to Asbestos because they thought asbestos is safe since it is a natural mineral rock, fiberglass is much safer than asbestos though synthetic.

      Anyway, here is an article from Scientific American with more info on dangers of natural alternatives:

      It’s a beautiful day out! I’m enjoying the pest-free parks. It’s 2019, let’s vaccinate our kids, switch to renewable energy, and end fear of synthetic chemistry!

    • thank you Billy , I will make a donation to you and the choir today, W

  3. Lynne Thermann

    once again, we're forced to engage one another in dialogue rather than the subjects of our inquiry. it's enough to force one to feel insignificant in our own destiny, which also serves the status quo, while every moment counts.

  4. Barbara R. Lee

    If a man made chemical is strong enough to kill plants, it can not be good for the Earth.
    Constant spraying affects the soil and nearby plants. We lie in the grass that is coated with glyphosates.

    Wildlife can’t avoid being in contact with glyphosates

    We should not have this poisonous chemical in our parks nor our lawns.

    Thank you, Rev BIlly and the Stop Shopping Choir.

    I noticed that goats coming to deal the weeds. I just hope that the goats won’t be grazing near plant life sprayed with that noxious round up!

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