(18th October 2018)
In September, the GMB Union joined an ever-growing range of voices calling for the UK government to immediately ban glyphosate. Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used weedkiller which was declared as ‘probably carcinogenic’ by the World Health Organisation in 2015. As well as being used widely for agriculture, it is also sprayed by local authorities in the majority of UK towns and cities.
GMB represents around 630,000 workers including those most at risk from exposure to the chemical such as parks staff, gardeners and agricultural and forestry workers.
Dan Shears, GMB National Officer, said:
“GMB is clear the guidance from the World Health Organisation should be heeded and glyphosate must be treated as a severe health risk to the general public. In situations like this, surely it is better to be safe not sorry? Employers should stop using glyphosates immediately and replace it with safer alternatives – many of which have been trialled by councils in the UK.”
The call from GMB follows a landmark decision by a court in the US which ruled that Monsanto’s Roundup – which contains glyphosate as its key ingredient – was liable for a terminally ill man’s cancer and ordered the company to pay $289 million in damages. This was the first case of its kind but there are another 8,000 similar cases pending in the US alone.
Based on the most recent data, glyphosate represents 77% of all active substances used by the amenity sector. Much of this is sprayed in UK towns and cities, ignoring the 68% of UK citizens who want their local parks, playgrounds and other public spaces to be pesticide-free.
GMB have produced a ‘Guide to Health Risks of Glyphosate’ which is particularly useful for workers or employers looking for advice on how to avoid the risks.