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Bid to ban controversial weedkiller is rejected by Wyre Forest District Council

A councillor’s bid to get Wyre Forest District Council to stop using a controversial weedkiller to protect the public and staff has been thwarted.

Cllr Nigel Knowles

Labour leader Nigel Knowles asked the council if it would stop using glyphosate, a key ingredient in a best-selling herbicide currently used by staff in public areas across Wyre Forest.

But Councillor Rebecca Vale, Conservative cabinet member for operational services, said glyphosate is approved for use by the Health and Safety Executive and by the European Union, and so will continue to be used by the council.

The product, used across the world by farmers and gardeners, was the subject of a legal challenge last year in Europe. The case ended when the chemical was cleared for continued use and granted a five year licence, in the face of a 1.3million strong petition. Despite the ruling, French president Emmanuel Macron vowed to find alternatives by 2020.

The World Health Organisation’s cancer agency, the IARC, has previously declared that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans”, although this has been fervently denied. Other studies have declared it is safe.

In a question to a full council meeting of Wyre Forest District Council, Councillor Knowles said the council should cease using glyphosate to control weeds on grass verges and parks. The safety of the public and workers should be the priority, he urged.

A court case brought against Monsanto by a Californian school caretaker, who claims the chemical was responsible for his cancer, is currently under way.

Councillor Knowles asked that until the result of the court case was known the council should stop using glyphosate as a treatment for weeds.

But Councillor Vale retorted: “The council is being asked to take action on the basis of a court case in America that has not yet reached a conclusion. This motion has the potential to worry or upset people.”

She added the product had been extensively reviewed and declared safe for use across Europe.

Check out the advice provided by the Health and Safety Executive by clicking here.

Jane Haynes
Former newspaper journalist and news editor, turned public sector PR, now studying for a Master's in multiplatform journalism. Wyrelife is a new, local investigative news website for Kidderminster, Bewdley, Stourport and Wyre Forest. My aim is to hold people and organisations to account to try to make my little bit of England a better informed, better place.