Council uses weedkiller linked to cancer

Lincolnshire County Council’s subcontractors use a weedkiller that has been linked to cancer.

Last week a landmark US court case found that a popular weedkiller caused the terminal cancer of a former groundskeeper.

A jury determined that Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller caused the 46-year-old man’s cancer and that the corporation failed to warn him of the health hazards from exposure.

The jury ruled that the company was liable for the terminally ill man’s cancer, awarding him the equivalent of £226 million in damages.

The ruling has prompted calls for the use of glyphosate, which is used in the Roundup weedkiller, to be reviewed in the UK and the EU.

Glyphosate used in Lincolnshire weed treatment

In Lincolnshire, the county council has insisted that the use of Roundup will not cause any harm to the public.

The treatment of weeds across the county is contracted out to private companies, so the council does not choose which weedkiller is used.

Satish Shah, highways network manager at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “We understand that our contractors use glyphosate for weed treatment, but only as a spot treatment to tackle weeds.

“If there was a change to legislation to restrict or ban usage of any particular herbicide, they would need to comply with any of those changes.

“We’re confident this limited use of the chemical poses no risk to the public, pets or wildlife,” he added.

This is not the first time that councils in Lincolnshire have been urged to stop using Roundup to treat weeds.

A petition set up two years ago claimed that the council was exposing residents and animals to harmful chemicals.

The council dismissed the allegations at the time and said that there was “no scientific evidence” that would make them reconsider the use of Roundup.

Despite the ruling in the US, there is still confusion as to whether glyphosate causes cancer and it is still widely used across the UK.

In November 2017 an EU appeal committee reauthorised glyphosate despite a petition by 1.3 million EU citizens calling for a ban.

IARC, the World Health Organisation’s cancer agency, said in 2015 that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans,” although several international agencies later came to opposing conclusions.

Monsanto insists glyphosate is safe and plans to appeal the US jury’s ruling.

German company Bayer completed a £52 billion takeover of Monsanto in June.