Bethnal Green garden society chairman urges council to ban ‘cancer-causing’ weedkiller

Geoff Juden.

Geoff Juden. - Credit: Archant

A ‘carcinogenic’ weedkiller should be banned, according to a garden society chairman.

Victoria Park. Pic: KEN MEARS

Victoria Park. Pic: KEN MEARS - Credit: Archant

East London Garden Society chairman, Geoffrey Juden, argued that the herbicide glyphosate is a threat to human health in a petition aimed at stopping its use in the borough.

Mr Juden, of Buckfast Street, Bethnal Green, claimed: “This council refuses to ban it saying it’s safe to use. That’s nonsense. It’s a load of rubbish.”

The green-fingered activist compared glyphosate’s use to the insecticide DDT banned in this country in 1984 over fears of its possible impact on human health and the environment.

“If you poison the ground, you poison people,” Mr Juden said.

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A council spokeswoman said: “Glyphosate products are still deemed safe by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the Health and safety Executive in the UK and are therefore still approved for use.

“We have adopted a pesticide reduction policy to reduce the amount of pesticides used and for this reason, we only use a spot treatment method within our parks and open spaces.”

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) ruled in 2015 that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

The European Parliament has backed a full ban by 2022.

Petitioners want the council to stop spraying it in the boroughs parks, highways and open spaces.

However, council officers have produced evidence showing that aspirin is five times more toxic than glyphosate saying a possible cancer risk can’t be ruled in or out.

Council officer Richard Williams told Mayor John Biggs there was no suitable alternative in a letter sent in April.

But Mr Juden pointed to outright bans or reductions in pesticide use imposed by Hammersmith and Fulham, Lewes and Glastonbury councils as setting a lead that Tower Hamlets ought to follow.

The GMB Union also joined calls for a ban on Wednesday over fears glyphosate was putting the health of its members at risk.

National officer Dan Shears said: “The GMB is clear that the guidance from the WHO should be heeded and glyphosate must be treated as a severe health risk to the general public.

“In situations like this, surely it is better to be safe not sorry?”

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