Hackney Council unswayed by fresh calls to ban glyphosate weedkiller
- Credit: Archant
Hackney Council is digging its heels in over use of a controversial weedkiller in parks, schools and streets, despite a finding from the World Health Organisation that it “probably causes cancer”.
The council insists glyphosate – currently the subject of a proposed new European law – is safe, and has refused to put up signs telling park users a wildflower meadow in London Fields has been sprayed with it.
A WHO report last year said the substance was “probably” carcinogenic to humans, but weedkiller manufacturers disputed the finding.
Now a campaign started in 2015 by fashion designer Katherine Hammnett has been revived ahead of this year’s growing season.
Part of a national movement against pesticides, a fortnight ago, Brighton became the first British council to rule out glyphosate’s use and opt for non-toxic weed control methods.
Two weeks ago the European Parliament backed a motion recommending the substance should not be used in or near parks and schools, or sold in supermarkets and garden centres. The law-making European Commission will vote on it next month.
Sarah Bentley, founder of community kitchen Made in Hackney, is among those backing a petition against its use in Hackney that has garnered more than a thousand signatures.
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She said: “A wildflower meadow is absolutely stunning and such a beautiful thing to have in parks. People want to sit in it, do yoga in it, put their babies in it, let their kids roll around on the floor – it compels you to behave like that. But it’s bad for your health if it’s just been sprayed with glyphosate, and it’s sprayed year after year so the levels of build-up in the ground area are dangerously high.
“If you tell people having a wonderful time in the wildflower meadow, ‘Get out, it’s dangerous,’ they’ll think you’re a nutter, but the council should really put up signs.”
The council’s public health director Dr Penny Bevan pointed out Defra, Public Health England, the Health and Safety Executive and the EU at present consider the chemical safe. “All spraying is conducted in line with regulations,” she said.
“The limited amount of spot spraying [in the meadow] does not pose a risk to the public.”
To view the petition see https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/pesticide-free-hackney-1.