Glyphosate is a systemic herbicide: it kills plants, especially annual broad-leaf weeds and grasses, by inhibiting enzymes. It was developed by global corporate Monsanto and traded from the mid-1970s under the brand name Roundup. Over the next four decades it became the leading weed-killer in US agriculture and has been heavily used also in horticulture, residential gardens and urban environments. Worldwide distribution followed, including wide application in the UK in both rural and urban settings. 

There have been conflicting health studies as to whether glyphosate is carcinogenic in humans. Recent US class actions have been successfully brought against Monsanto on this basis. Although the European Union has not outlawed use, it is now being banned or phased out by government authorities in several member states. In the UK, more than 40 local councils have issued banning orders.

Green Party claim:
Glyphosate is a danger to human and animal health

From early last year Hastings Borough Council (HBC) agreed with its estate contractors Idverde that they should cease the use of glyphosate in parks and open spaces. They are said to use instead a plant-based herbicide, Katoun Gold, on shrub borders, rose borders and hard-standing areas in the parks of the town, while flower beds, seasonal borders and rockeries are hand-weeded. Katoun Gold is described as “a natural plant-based chemical known as pelargonic acid. It is a natural fatty acid-based weed-killer found in geraniums. It is biodegradable and is not mutagenic.”

This herbicide is not, however, effective on deep-rooted plants such as Japanese knotweed. Idverde will revert to glyphosate in such cases with the approval of HBC, though the occurrence of knotweed in Hastings is said to be minimal.

The roadways and footpaths of Hastings are, on the other hand, maintained not by Idverde but by East Sussex County Council (ESCC). Their spokesperson said: “We currently carry out one weed spray a year on channels and footpaths in Hastings using glyphosate. The spraying is carefully controlled and limited in use to only where weeds are present. We continue to look for alternativae methods of controlling weeds, but these are currently limited.”

Hastings and Rye Green Party have launched a petition to ESCC urging a ban on glyphosate-spraying along Hastings roadsides and green spaces. They claim not only that glyphosate is a danger to human and animal health but that the current method of spraying from a mini-tractor is in any case ineffective against persistent weeds. The petition also calls for delaying spraying, if it is to continue, until after flowering has occurred. 

Over 1,200 signatures have been collected so far towards a target of 1,600 needed to spur a council debate.

For the full petition, see actionnetwork.org/petitions/ban-the-use-of-glyphosate-along-hastings-roadsides-and-green-spaces?source=facebook&

Read a GLYPHOSATE – A Witness Report here


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