Push to weed out chem­i­cals

Hills Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Sarah Brookes

COUN­CILS should ban the use of Roundup or risk be­ing sued by em­ploy­ees and res­i­dents if their health is af­fected, say ac­tion groups.

The call comes in the wake of a land­mark lawsuit in the US in which a jury found chem­i­cal gi­ant Mon­santo li­able for caus­ing a school grounds­man’s can­cer from his ex­po­sure to the weed­killer.

The ac­tive chem­i­cal in Roundup – glyphosate –is clas­si­fied as prob­a­bly car­cino­genic by the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion but is still ap­proved for use in Aus­tralia.

Al­liance for a Clean En­vi­ron­ment con­venor Jane Brem­mer said coun­cils should im­me­di­ately sus­pend the use of glyphosate in pub­lic places, par­tic­u­larly chil­dren’s play­grounds.

“Lo­cal govern­ment au­thor­i­ties are now com­pelled by this le­gal prece­dent to pro­tect their con­stituents and worker’s health and their own le­gal li­a­bil­ity by sus­pend­ing the use of glyphosate in pub­lic places and in­vest in safer, al­ter­na­tive weed con­trol prac­tices,” she said.

“It is sim­ply ab­surd to sug­gest that al­low­ing chil­dren to play on freshly sprayed grass within min­utes of a pes­ti­cide ap­pli­ca­tion is safe.

“It’s a tragic case of the Em­peror’s new clothes with po­ten­tially deadly con­se­quences.”

The Shire of Mun­dar­ing and City of Kala­munda said they would con­tinue to use glyphosate in line with the ad­vice from the Aus­tralian Pes­ti­cides and Vet­eri­nary Medicines Author­ity (APVMA) rec­om­men­da­tion that prod­ucts con­tain­ing the pes­ti­cide were safe to use as per the man­u­fac­turer’s in­struc­tions.

City of Swan chief ex­ec­u­tive Mike Fo­ley ac­knowl­edged sev­eral Euro­pean coun­tries had banned the use of glyphosate and said the coun­cil would mon­i­tor de­vel­op­ments na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.

Aus­tralian anti-GM group Gene Ethics di­rec­tor Bob Phelps said the court rul­ing raised thorny ques­tions for the in­dus­try.

“These or­gan­i­sa­tions should now cease their weed­killer use or risk be­ing sued for breach of care to work­ers and cit­i­zens,” he said.

"Roundup is avail­able from most hard­ware shops and su­per­mar­kets and re­tail­ers should re­view their li­a­bil­ity for sell­ing an un­safe prod­uct and take it off their shelves.”

APVMA chief ex­ec­u­tive Chris Parker said they would con­tinue to track and con­sider any new sci­en­tific in­for­ma­tion as­so­ci­ated with the safety and ef­fec­tive­ness of glyphosate.

“In 2016, the APVMA found no grounds to place glyphosate un­der for­mal re­con­sid­er­a­tion,” he said.

“Glyphosate is reg­is­tered for use in Aus­tralia and APVMA ap­proved prod­ucts con­tain­ing glyphosate can con­tinue to be used safely ac­cord­ing to la­bel di­rec­tions.”

Mr Phelps called for an ur­gent re­view of Roundup in light of the ev­i­dence dis­cov­ered dur­ing the US trial.

Mon­santo has de­nied the link be­tween glyphosate and can­cer and will ap­peal the de­ci­sion.

Jane Brem­mer from Al­liance for a Clean En­vi­ron­ment.

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