You might have seen a recent episode of Four Corners, The Monsanto Papers. It exposed the tactics that global chemical corporation Monsanto use to protect its billion-dollar business and its product, the weed killer, Roundup, and its primary ingredient, glyphosate.
I was diagnosed with cancer just before my 30th birthday, and at age 31. Four beautiful, bright young women I knew growing up have tragically lost their lives to cancer in the past five years. I don’t want anyone to unnecessarily what these women and their families have been through, or what I have been through. So I’m calling on the Australian Government to take immediate action and restrict the use of glyphosate in public spaces in Australia.
In 2015 glyphosate was classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) because of its strong association with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It is also on a list of known carcinogens in the state of California.
In August 2018, a US jury ordered Monsanto to pay Dewayne Johnson – a man dying of cancer – $289 million because it’s Roundup weed killer contributed to his disease. Nine thousand people in America are now suing Monsanto with claims that Roundup contributed to their cancer. Glyphosate has been found by IARC to linger in water, air and food long after it has been sprayed.
Here in Australia, there are around 500 products containing glyphosate registered for use in Australia including Roundup, the most commonly used weed killer in Australia and used by local councils around Australia. This means that children, other people, and their pets who visit parks and gardens around Australia are exposed to this probable carcinogen.
Currently, there are no regulations or checks in place and there is no way for the Australian public to know if their local council is using it according to label directions, nor how it is used or if it is present in the food we buy.
Belgium, Malta, The Netherlands and Argentina have banned or restricted the use of glyphosate. In Argentina, 30,000 doctors demanded the prohibition of glyphosate because it is associated with cancer, birth defects, skin diseases, respiratory illnesses and neurological disease. In November 2017 Emmanuel Macron announced France will issue an outright ban within the next three years.
Australia must now join growing international action to ban or restrict the use of glyphosate. I’m calling on the Federal Government to develop a consistent set of national guidelines, restrictions and regulations on how glyphosate is used until a viable alternative is found. Can you help me send a message to Canberra?
The need to protect the Australian public from associated health risks is urgent. Australians deserve peace of mind that measures are being taken to ensure the areas in which our pets and children play are safe.
It’s time to get serious about addressing the causes of cancer. The Australian Government must act immediately and restrict the use of glyphosate in public spaces in Australia.
“The suburbs are a great place for bees, and that’s where backyard gardeners are important, in terms of their use of pesticides and that sort of stuff,” he told The Signal.
“If our urban gardens are pesticide free, then our urban honey will have fewer pesticides in it, and the bees will benefit.
Several members of BSCFL attended the workshop on Byron Shire’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Policy in Mullumbimby on May 3rd. Unfortunately, community participation throughout the process of developing the IPM Policy has been micro-managed and there was little opportunity for real community participation at this event too.
It was clear that many had not read the IPM Directions Document which the Council has released yet participants were directed to consider four very generalised questions which arose from it. For example, ‘what are the hazards of using pesticides (at a number of sites shown in photographs)? Well, what are the pesticides used, what is the frequency of use, what are the breakdown products, what are the health/environmental effects? And were all the participants well informed to answer? Would you allow your local organic farmer to do brain surgery (or would you allow the brain surgeon to do your plumbing)? You may well agree to pesticide use one-off on fire ants but not to regular use or to purely cosmetic use in other areas. Many queries arise from the Directions Document but the workshop was not structured to obtain answers.
Pesticide use was outlined in three main areas: public spaces, West Byron Sewage Treatment Plant (STP), and Landcare.
BSCFL commends Byron Shire Council for their huge reduction of pesticides in public spaces. An important way this has been achieved is by the use of saturated steam weeding and we would like to thank Paul Sommers for introducing this technology to this shire.
Another area of concern is at the West Byron STP where Parrots Feather dominates one of the reed cells. The STP eventually flows to the Belongil Estuary. Glyphosate has been used on this weed in large quantities for many years. Parrots Feather loves high nutrients and high light. Naturally the nutrients are high at an STP, but the light? Why are the reeds not providing good coverage so that they reduce light? Is the glyphosate destroying reeds?
The third area is Landcare. While BSCFL understands that Landcare training to date has focussed on a war on weeds, we have shown that other strategies and techniques are highly effective. There are other chemical-free bush regenerators in the shire who have also worked effectively without synthetic pesticides. We note in the Management Directions Document comments on the need to use pesticides on pests we in chem-free already know the simple alternatives to their management.
I suppose the take-home message we have is that BSC should take advantage of the expertise in chemical-free landcare in this Shire and ensure that those who have already moved ahead to remove pesticides from their lives are included both in the development of the policy document and also in future Council decision making in these matters. As Albert Einstein is reputed to have said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them”.