Green Councillors are calling for clarity on the use of a chemical weed-killer by Bristol City Council. Roundup, which is the most commonly used commercial herbicide, is used by the council to control weeds and contains a controversial chemical called glyphosate. The chemical has been causing a debate among campaigners and community groups after its safety was called into question.
Recently the World Health Organisation announced that the herbicide could be a cause for cancer and warned against its prolific use. The Soil Association and other environmental groups have also warned against using this product for some time, promoting organic and non-invasive techniques it its place.
Many farmers, agriculturalists and horticulturalists stress the product’s effectiveness and safe lifetime use.
At Full Council, local Green Councillor for Ashley ward and Good Food Campaigner Gus Hoyt will be asking the Mayor exactly how and where glyphosate is used in the city and how the possible negative impacts on health could be avoided.
Councillor Hoyt said ‘Many people are concerned about the use of round-up in public places by both the city council and our contractors. Those tackling food insecurity by growing food in public areas and parents of young children are particularly worried about the effects it (Roundup) could be having on their families.’
Councillor Hoyt added ‘The fact is that we simply do not know where it is sprayed and in what concentration. Once we have these answers we can get to the root of the problem and start to formulate a policy fit for a city with Green Capital status.’
Green Councillor Carla Denyer, who represents Clifton East, stressed the importance of taking a scientific approach saying ‘We must base our response and campaigns on scientific understanding and empirical rather than anecdotal evidence. These questions to the Mayor will enable us to begin this process.’
‘Many of the studies about glyphosate focus on food production’, she added, ‘but there could be risks associated with use in public spaces too, and this is one of the things we are seeking to find out. We are also asking about the extent to which glyphosate products are used in Bristol’s public spaces, and what guidelines the council follows.’
Councillor Hoyt is keen to investigate the potential for alternatives adding ‘There are award winning products available such as Foamstream and many other possible alternatives to Roundup. Perhaps the next logical step would be trials in Neighbourhood Partnerships to prove their effectiveness and cost.’
Councillor Hoyt will put his questions to the Mayor at Full council on Tuesday the 15th September.
Photo © Flickr/Michelle Tribe