New call to ban weed spraying

A SOUTH FREMANTLE resident wants Fremantle council to stop spraying parks with glyphosate in the wake of the World Health Organization upgrading its toxicity to “probably carcinogenic” to humans.

Melissa White says she was at South Beach a couple of weeks ago when council workers started spraying Roundup—the best-selling brand of the chemical—around the bases of trees to kills grass and weeds. They put a warning sign near their truck while spraying but packed it away as soon as they’d finished. “Anyone could have been there with their kids after that,” Ms White told the Herald.

She chatted to the three workers who revealed they hadn’t been made aware of the WHO’s finding.

In March WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer released a report upgrading glyphosates to class 2A—”probably carcinogenic” to humans.

The report went on to say that while there was some evidence of the link, other factors couldn’t be ruled out.

Global chemicals giant Monsanto, which manufactures Roundup, was quick to accuse the WHO of “agenda-driven bias” and pointed to a stack of studies which say glyphosates are safe to use near people.

Monsanto says the pesticide can’t be harmful to humans because it only attacks plants via their shikimate pathway, which humans don’t have.

But that’s been challenged by MIT scientist Stephanie Seneff, who says the chemical does affect humans because it can damage beneficial gut bacteria.

Freo council’s park manager Joanne Smith says she’s aware of the WHO report, but notes the research behind it hasn’t been released: in Australia, glyphosates remain classified as non-hazardous.

“It should also be noted that the active ingredient in Roundup (glyphosate) is a class 2A product which is considered less carcinogenic than many other ordinary household items.”

Ms Smith says the council follows all guidelines when storing, applying or disposing of glyphosates. They’re not used on windy days, to avoid them blowing into waterways or neighbouring properties.

She says the council only uses steam to kill weeds on roads and paths, and using both methods “is a more scientific and complete way of ensuring our efforts are targeted precisely”.


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