SDCC bans use of controversial weed killer

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South Dublin County Council last week voted to ban the use of glyphosate in public areas, as the EU continues to debate the future of the controversial weed killer in farming.

The vote was tabled by Sinn Fein councillor Enda Fanning who said a report by the International Agency for Research against Cancer (IARC) in 2015 concluded that glyphosate was probably carcinogenic to humans, but was followed by another from the European Food Safety Authority that said glyphosate was “unlikely” to cause cancer.

Glyphosate, often sold under the brand name Roundup, is the world’s most widely-used herbicide and has been getting a lot of attention in the last few years.

Introduced commercially by Monsanto  in 1974, glyphosate kills weeds by blocking proteins essential to plant growth.  It is now used in more than 160 countries, with more than 1.4 billion pounds applied per year.

The weed killer has also drawn attention from medical experts due to its widespread use on genetically modified seeds and research that links it to antibiotics resistance and hormone disruption.

Ireland has the second-highest levels of glyphosate in surface water and earlier this year a group of NGOs launched a special EU-wide petition, known as a European Citizens’ Initiative, to ban glyphosate, which needs a million signatures spread across at least seven EU countries to force the Commission to act.

Following the unanimous vote to ban the use of the herbicide, Councillor Fanning said:

“Glyphosate is the subject of much controversy across the world since a report by the International Agency for Research against Cancer (IARC) in 2015 concluded that glyphosate was probably carcinogenic to humans.

“That report was followed by a controversial and hugely criticised report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which concluded that glyphosate was “unlikely” to cause cancer.

“The European Parliament rejected this conclusion and demanded a review by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and requested EFSA release all scientific sources that led to its conclusion.”