Yorkshire council urged to stop using weedkiller linked with cancer on verges and play areas

A Yorkshire council will be urged to phase out use of an “aggressive” weedkiller that has been linked to causing cancer and seek “safer and greener” alternatives at a meeting on Wednesday.

The proposal will be discussed at a meeting at County Hall, Beverley, on Wednesday

Last year a jury in California ruled that glyphosate - the most widely sold weedkiller in the world - had “substantially” contributed to groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis in 2014.

And it led to manufacturer Monsanto, which uses the substance in its Roundup range, being ordered to pay damages, later reduced to $78 million (£62m).

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A report by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015 concluded that glyphosate - which is the active ingredient in many weedkillers - is a “probable carcinogen”.

In 2017 the EU Commission reapproved the use of the herbicide until 2022 saying it had “thoroughly (been) assessed by Member States, the European Chemicals Agency and the European Food Safety Authority”.

But East Riding Lib Dem councillor Linda Johnson said it was “frightening” that the weed-killer could be “sprayed with insufficient care and in adverse windy weather around parks and play areas, when even small amounts are now considered dangerous to children.”

She also claimed it was not safe for grounds staff, who came into contact with the weedkiller on a regular basis.

It worked for me... the key lessons Extinction Rebellion activists will learn from having a job - David BehrensThe herbicide - first approved for use in the US in 1974 - has already been banned in Italy and Portugal, according to the Lib Dem motion, to be discussed at a meeting of East Riding Council on Wednesday.

It comes as Monsanto’s German owner Bayer is facing thousands more lawsuits in the US.

Beverley resident Adrian Koster added: “Recent studies published in Science Direct show an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma caused by exposure to pesticides. It is time for East Riding Council to urgently introduce safer alternatives in its streets, urban areas, parklands and recreational areas.”

Paul Tripp, the council’s head of streetscene services, confirmed the council used the herbicide at junctions to keep sight-lines clear and areas where there is footfall.

Left alone paths and roads could quickly become overrun by weeds, restricting public use and damaging surfaces.

He added: "The council's officers regularly attend the industry led Amenity Forum Group, which is a national body that provides advice to local authorities on the safe use of pesticides and integrated methods for the control of pests, weeds and diseases.

"The council continues to work closely with other local authorities and remains open to the use of alternative products as they become available to the market.

"The council will also continue to follow Government guidance on this matter."

A statement on Bayer’s website said more than 800 scientific studies and reviews had proved glyphosate does not cause cancer.

Commenting after the US Environmental Protection Agency made an interim decision to reapprove glyphosate for use in April, it said it was “significant” that expert regulators “continue to conclude that these products are safe when used as directed and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic.”