THE pesticide glyphosate is on the way out in Hackney.
Pressure from Loving Dalston and complaints by local campaigners have persuaded Hackney council to phase out the weedkiller described by the World Health Organisation as a “probable carcinogen”.
The council’s public health director, Penny Bevan, said that “in order to reduce chemical usage” in response to “public concern” about the wildflower meadow in London Fields, ploughing was now Hackney’s main way of dealing with weeds.
Sources within the council tell Loving Dalston that parks staff find glyphosate effective and that they have not stopped using glyphosate at London Fields, Hackney Downs or any other open space, although they are targeting it more specifically.
At London Fields, for example, the council does not blanket-spray the meadow.
Dr Bevan explained: “It ploughs the soil and then uses a limited amount of spot-spraying to try to combat perennial weeds and grass.” This reduced glyphosate use “significantly”.
Hackney also tried a foam system, as exclusively reported by this news site, but park workers found it difficult to operate.
Labour-run Hammersmith and Fulham in June this year 2016 became the only London borough to drop herbicide sprays, instead pioneering trials of other weedkillers.
A few weeks later the European Commission renewed the licence for glyphosate for 18 months. Had the licence been allowed to expire, manufacturers would have had to start phasing out products, such as Monsanto’s Roundup, by late 2016.
Some countries, including Colombia in central America, have banned glyphosate and several EU countries have taken steps that will lead to a ban.
Monsanto said that 40 years’ use had shown glyphosate to be a safe, effective and economical weed-controller. No regulatory body had banned it.
Now that the new Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is Andrea “My brilliant CV” Leadsom, Defra is unlikely to be the first to do so. Hackney, however, is quietly dropping it.
David Altheer 020816
* Forestry: Hackney issues odd denial
* Picture at top shows one of the Hackney Downs sections planted by council and Hackney Downs User Group
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