Weedkillers including glyphosate, which has been linked to causing cancer in humans, continue to be used by Croydon Council, whose contractors even spray the substance around public parks and children’s playgrounds.
Now Friends of the Earth is calling on the council to stop using the controversial weedkiller, which the World Health Organisation has stated is “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in many weedkillers, such as Roundup. Recently, an American court ruled that agricultural giant Monsanto (who manufacture Roundup) was responsible for causing the cancer of groundkeeper Dewayne Johnson, and awarded him millions of dollars in damages.
Monsanto, the manufacturers, claim that glyphosate breaks down in the soil. This claim is disputed but Friends of the Earth say it is hardly reassuring when local authorities, like Croydon, spray the chemical on surfaces including concrete, paving slabs or children’s playground equipment.
“Spraying in our parks can be very unfocused and so there is little control over where the chemical ends up,” said a spokesperson for Croydon’s Friends of the Earth group.
Holland, Denmark and Sweden have already banned or restricted the use of glyphosate herbicides by local authorities. In Britain, the GMB union has called for a ban on the weedkiller and other local authorities (such as Hammersmith and Fulham, Edinburgh, Bristol, and Brighton and Hove) are already looking at alternatives.
“We think it’s time that Croydon Council took the sensible step of banning the spraying of these toxic weedkillers,” said Peter Underwood, chair of Croydon’s Friends of the Earth.
“Just waiting for the first court cases awarding damages for cancer in Croydon will be too late, we need to act now.
“We would like a ban to be brought in as soon as possible. There is little spraying that takes place over the winter and so as a minimum we think the ban should be in place before spring.
“From February next year, the Council will be taking the landscape management contract back in-house, and this would be a perfect time for the council to ban the spraying of glyphosate weedkillers by its staff.
“The council should be doing its best to provide a clean, safe, green environment that we can enjoy without putting our health and the health of our families at risk. That’s why we are calling on Croydon Council to ban the spraying of weedkillers containing glyphosate in our streets, parks, and playgrounds.”
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