herald

Tuesday 26 September 2017

Weedkiller banned by council over cancer fears

Glyphosate kills weeds by blocking proteins essential to plant growth and has been used in commercial weedkilling products since the 1970s. Stock pic: REUTERS
Glyphosate kills weeds by blocking proteins essential to plant growth and has been used in commercial weedkilling products since the 1970s. Stock pic: REUTERS

A weedkiller that is believed to have the potential to cause cancer will be banned by South Dublin County Council (SDCC) by the new year.

The council has voted to ban the use of glyphosate while negotiations continue at European level over the future of the controversial weedkiller in farming.

The vote was tabled by Sinn Fein councillor Enda Fanning, who said that a 2015 report by the International Agency for Research Against Cancer (IARC) concluded that glyphosate was probably carcinogenic to humans.

Alternatives

However, the report was followed by another from the European Food Safety Authority that said it was "unlikely" to cause cancer.

A motion was also tabled in Kildare County Council, which was then referred to the Water Services and Environment Strategic Policy Committee for further discussion.

It has also been discussed in Dublin City Council after a motion was tabled by Cllr Ciaran Cuffe to investigate any potential alternatives to the weedkiller in question.

Glyphosate kills weeds by blocking proteins essential to plant growth and has been used in commercial weedkilling products since the 1970s.

It is now available in more than 160 countries, with 1.4 billion pounds of it used annually.

SDCC and Dun Laoghaire- Rathdown County Council have attended two demonstrations on alternative weed control methods since the motion was passed.

A hot water technique and a hot foam technique for weed removal were experimented with but were found to be unsuitable for public spaces.

Industrial grade vinegar and other non-glyphosate weedkillers are also being considered as replacements by the councils.

Mr Fanning told the Herald that utilising the weedkiller "really is a risk in the grand scheme of things".

"You'd expect opposition from the really big companies, who are doing all they can to fight it," he said.

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