Hackney bows to glyphosate pressure as London council bans it just days before EC sits on fence

Wildflowers planted by Hackney ccl on Hackney Downs London 150616 © DavidAltheer [at] gmail.com
Hackney's wildflower garden's coming on well. But at what cost to the environment? © David Altheer
Love Hackney, love glypho? Council sign mentions no pesticide danger

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.

London Fields Hackney wildflower patch / meadow 090716 © david.altheer@gmail.com
Glypho picnic: London Fields users relax at the wildflower meadow

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

Backstory: Penny Bevan on Hackney’s Rich ListLet us spray, says Hackney;Chelsea flowers out East; Hackney estate tackles social weedsTo vote in the European parly

Picture at top shows one of the Hackney Downs sections planted by council and Hackney Downs User Group 

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