Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used herbicide but there have been growing attempts around the world to stop its use.
U.S. agrochemical giant Monsanto’s patent expired in 2000 and glyphosate is now produced by various companies under different names.
However, the most well-known brand is Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup, which has been on the market since 1974.
This week the Douglas Shire Council followed in the footsteps of Austria, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, and has voted to ban the use of glyphosate in 133 public locations across the Shire, including playgrounds, footpaths and retail areas.
The move comes after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer found in 2015 that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic.”
So far billions of dollars in compensation have been awarded to US cancer sufferers who’ve sued the Roundups maker, Monsanto, which is owned by Bayer.
Late last year an Australian farmer launched legal action against Monsanto, claiming it caused his cancer.
Douglas Shire Council Mayor Julia Leu said the strategy strengthened the organisation’s current efforts to move away from glyphosate.
“Council is acting on serious concerns about the use of glyphosate in public areas by building on the measures we have been working with since 2013,” she said.
“For many years, our crews have been trialling different methods, from flame weeding to steam weeding to organic herbicides, in a bid to shift the organisation’s reliance away from glyphosate.
“This strategy builds on the glyphosate ban we introduced north of the Daintree River and at playgrounds in previous years, as well as further encouraging investment in steam weeding technology for use in sensitive areas.”
Mayor Leu admits that the council will still be “using RoundUp in remote areas away from the public”
Other Far North Councils have differing views on the use of RoundUp:
Cook Shire Council Chief Executive Officer Linda Cardew said:
“Council has moved away from herbicides and uses a steam weeder wherever possible. However, the steam weeder has limitations and the Council continues to use herbicide on occasion and strictly in accordance with the Safety Data Sheets.”
The Mareeba Shire council told the Express:
“The Shire is 53,491 km². Roundup is the only cost-effective method for vegetation management”
“Council continuously monitors the market for cost-effective alternative methods of dealing with weeds. Council has no immediate plans to move away from using roundup as it is the most cost-effective method to deal with weeds. Council employees follow appropriate workplace health and safety requirements when dealing with any chemical or hazardous substance.”
And in a statement from the Tablelands Regional Council:
“We use pesticides and herbicides that are proven to be effective and provide value for money. At the same time, we trial new products and methodologies to improve effectiveness and reduce potential environmental and health impacts. Products and methodologies recently (or still being) trialled include: Steam weeding, BioWeed Organic, Slasher Organic Weedkiller, Slasher and Lynx mix.
“We mostly use WeedMaster Duo, which is glyphosate-based, frog-friendly and registered for use in aquatic environments.”
A spokesman for the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority said “we remain satisfied that APVMA-approved products containing glyphosate [the key ingredient in Roundup] can continue to be used safely according to label directions”.