Fashion designer Katherine Hamnett calls emergency Roundup meeting in Hackney
PUBLISHED: 17:02 13 May 2014 | UPDATED: 16:11 16 May 2014
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Fashion designer Katherine Hamnett has called an emergency meeting this weekend, after spotting a council worker spraying the London Fields wildflower meadow with noxious Roundup pesticide.
Well known for her political T-shirts and ethical business philosophy, Ms Hamnett is “alarmed” at the council’s use of the chemical known as glyphosate, which environmentalists want to see banned and is linked to organ damage and infertility.
She has been handing out leaflets in the popular park warning people not to walk or picnic within 100 feet of the wildflower meadow because of the “poison” she says has been sprayed there.
Her leaflet reads: “Sitting on the grass, eating with your hands near an area that has been sprayed with herbicide is the shortest route to ingesting it bar drinking it straight from the bottle.”
Ms Hamnett, who was made a CBE in 2010 for services to the fashion industry, said:
“As summer looms, and we can expect to see the return of hundreds of young picnickers sitting on the grass near sprayed areas, the issue is one of increasing importance.”
Hackney Council came under fire last year for the £40,000 a year it spends spraying parks and weed-free streets with glyphosate, which is marketed by biotech giant Monsanto as Roundup.
Environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth (FoE) has raised concerns about glyphosate’s effect on human health, particularly on the endocrine system, and its impact on the environment.
The product sheet of glyphosate, which is the world’s best-selling weed killer and one of the most widely used herbicides in Europe, states it is toxic to aquatic organisms.
However industry bodies insist there is no evidence the weedkiller is harmful.
Ms Hamnett has arranged a meeting this Saturday to put pressure on all political parties with the forthcoming elections, and has invited London’s Green Party Member of the European Parliament, Jean Lambert, to speak.
Ms Lambert said: “We want to know what alternatives are being looked at, and even if you decide as a council to continue using it, should the public be being warned when you are using this, at least so those who don’t want to be near it are not in range, that kids aren’t playing on the grass nearby while spraying is going on.”
Kim Wright, the council’s corporate director of health and community services said the product had been declared “safe and environmentally friendly” by government, and it is used by councils across the country for weed control as well as being widely on sale to the public.
She added: “The gardening staff use glyphosate in the form of “round up pro-bioactive” to control weeds on paths and shrub beds, and in the case of the meadow in order to control the dominant local, more aggressive weeds that colonised the area.
“If these were not removed, it would reduce the chance of the colourful flowers that were intentionally planted from growing.”
The meeting which was due to start at 12 noon, has been moved to 1pm at St Michaels and All Angels church hall in Lansdowne Drive, London Fields.
More than 2,000 people have signed a petition calling on Hackney Mayor, Jules Pipe, to ban glyphosate from Hackney’s parks and pavements.
To view the petition see https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/ban-dangerous-herbicides-in-hackney-1.