South Tyneside Council urged to stop using weedkiller linked to cancer

Calls have been made to stop South Tyneside Council using a controversial weedkiller which has been linked to causing cancer.

Wednesday, 29th August 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th August 2018, 7:26 am
David Francis has called for the council to rethink its use of weedkiller

Earlier this month, the council said it is satisfied the weedkiller glyphosate is safe to use by ‘trained and competent staff’.

But now South Tyneside Green Party is calling for the council to stop using the controversial chemical over concerns it may be harmful and could potentially increase the risk of cancer.

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David Francis, campaigner and co-ordinator of the Green Party, said: “We appreciate that councils around the country are working hard to balance their budgets and cut costs, but there are more than just financial costs attached to these products.

“We also need to consider their impact on public health and the environment. When this spraying is happening next to homes and in streets where children play and people walk their dogs, we need to look into safer alternatives.

“The initiative shown by councils elsewhere shows this can work, even in the current climate of funding cuts and stretched budgets.

“I’m calling on our council to rethink this as a matter of urgency.”

A jury in California recently ruled the chemical had “substantially” contributed to groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis in 2014.

And it led to manufacturer Monsanto, which uses the substance in its Roundup range, being ordered to pay $289million (£226million) in damages.

David Herbert, of the Green Party, believes the council should stop using the weedkiller as a precautionary measure.

He said: “Councils across the country such as Hammersmith and Fulham have banned the use of it as a precautionary measure.

“I think we should stop using it until we can know for certain that it isn’t harmful.”

Some councils have moved away from using the chemical and are looking at other safer alternatives.

A South Tyneside Council spokesman said: “The council currently uses this common ingredient as part of the maintenance of its green spaces and highways.

“The ingredient is carefully administered by fully-trained staff within the application guidelines. Similar weed killers are widely available in DIY outlets and garden centres.

“We follow government regulations for weed control and await any further guidance from DEFRA on the matter.”