We are asking for a ban on the use of glyphosate in Rangitikei’s public town spaces due to the known carcinogenity of the product.
To date most councils including the RDC have used the most popular herbicide on the planet, Roundup, the active ingredient for which is glyphosate, to keep roadsides, berms, public parks, walkways and council housing grounds free of weeds. It is also
sprayed on rural roadsides, farms and private gardens having enjoyed a status of being perfectly safe since it approval in the 1970s.
However, the initial approval of glyphosate was granted, not on independent testing but by tests carried out on lab rats by the manufacturers of the product, tests that spanned only the required 90 days. Subsequent research however on identical lab rats and spanning two years demonstrated the growth of large cancerous tumours. (Ninety days is insufficient time for tumours to develop). You can read that research by Professor Seralini on the glyphosate page here. In 2009 France’s highest court ruled that Monsanto, the manufacturers of glyphosate/Roundup, had lied about the safety of their product.
There has been in fact a growing body of research (see further down the page) linking glyphosate to many other medical conditions and illnesses including birth defects. Hence, early this year (2015) WHO, having reviewed the literature, re-classified glyphosate as a Class 2A carcinogen meaning it ‘probably causes cancer’. Read their report here.
In March of 2014 I (the author) personally contacted our Mayor, Andy Watson (RDC) to inform him of the risks of using glyphosate, citing the most pertinent and recent research. The Mayor replied saying he believed the research was ‘unproven extrapolation’.
I later had a meeting with him to discuss the research pointing out that cost effectiveness in dollar terms does not take into account health costs, or words to that effect. (Note that currently one in three persons will contract cancer in NZ). I was advised if I could find alternatives that were as cost effective as Roundup, Council may consider them.
My findings: Dunedin uses a salt solution, Auckland (parts of) uses hot water & foam, a variation on steam.
On 27 November 2014 I made a presentation to the RDC at their forum slot (four minutes) at the monthly Council Meeting. I cited the lack of parameters and clear guidelines around the spraying of chemical herbicides in public places. You can read of that process & the outcomes here. In brief summary the matter scraped onto the agenda courtesy of two RDC Councilors, and an internal report was requested for possible cost effective alternatives. Health effects were never researched.
The matter and report were presented at the RDC’s March 2015 meeting with Council declining to consider alternatives because of figures they cited claiming the cost of mechanical (hot water and foam / &/or steam) was fifteen times the cost of glyphosate. Attempts to correct this assumption went unheard, were overridden in fact by claims by another Councilor that glyphosate was safe. (Read at the link).
The only concession made was an opt out list (known as a no-spray register) which is standard procedure in many if not most districts. Included in it is the option to opt out with the condition that the person opting out keeps the area (usually roadside verges) weed free at their own cost.
Currently, there is a petition online at our FB page that you can sign if you agree that it’s safer and wiser to heed WHO’s findings and protect the public, particularly our children. (The product is also used in some school grounds … read how herbicides & pesticides can affect our children).
We are only asking that the RDC ban the use of glyphosate in public spaces in the Rangitikei. This includes public walkways, community housing grounds and parking areas, public parks, roadsides and footpaths. We respect the right of people to spray it on their own sections or farms if they wish to. We would like however to not have it imposed on us. Contractors spray it with no warning prior, during or after application, so we are unable to take the precaution of protecting ourselves. I have watched people walk on sprayed areas immediately after application with no knowledge of the risk. I have also seen the product sprayed on windy days. These are all contrary to instructions on the packaging.
NOTE: Be aware, should you opt to avoid glyphosate, that most other chemical sprays for your gardening needs also contain glyphosate. Roundup tends to have been focused on as the main culprit because it is so popular, however I examined at least 3 or 4 other popular brands on the supermarket shelf recently and noted they all contained glyphosate. Another important reason to always read labels.
LINK TO THE WHO’S REPORT ON GLYPHOSATE HERE
Some thoughts on Council processes
These articles describe my interaction with the RDC around requesting that some parameters be placed around the use of glyphosate in public spaces in our towns. I’ve questioned the processes that are not as democratic as they might seem.
Are councils in bed with Agrichemical companies? They cite grossly inaccurate figures in their defense
6th August 2015 Are councils in bed with Agrichemical companies? Both the Auckland & Rangitikei District Council are favouring chemical weed control over non-chemical, in spite of the heightened health risks highlighted recently by WHO. They cite outdated & incorrect data to support this preference…Read more
Further Medical Conditions Linked to Glyphosate Use:
Link to WHO’s recent report resulting in their Class 2A classification (PDF file)
The following link provides a list of research on glyphosate:
Included are the following topics: