Controversial pesticide ‘used at playground’

  • Causing concern: Roundup

    Causing concern: Roundup

The Bermuda Government has confirmed that it used Roundup — a systemic pesticide being reviewed for potentially carcinogenic effects — at Warwick Long Bay Playground.

After the concerns of a parent, publicised in this newspaper on Wednesday, the Government has committed to instructing its crews in the Department of Parks to stop using the product at any playgrounds in the future.

It took a month for the Government to respond to our questions, with a response finally coming after this newspaper published a story highlighting concerns, along with the Government’s lack of communication.

Roundup was banned last May amid fears that the active ingredient, glyphosate, could cause cancer in humans.

In February, days after a meeting with representatives of Roundup manufacturer Monsanto, the Government announced that the ban was being relaxed and that importation would again be permitted.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Public Works said: “The Department of Parks can confirm a 2 per cent solution of Roundup was used in certain areas at Warwick Long Bay playground on March 7, 2016.

“There were no children present at the site at the time of the spraying. We regret that this action has led to concern by parents. We have instructed our crews not to use Roundup at the playgrounds in the future.

“The Department of Parks uses Roundup and, on occasion, three-way selective herbicide, which is limited to the Botanical Gardens only. We apply the pesticides according to the directions provided on the label; this varies for each product.”

The Government highlighted that the products used were the same as those purchased at local retail stores, which must meet guidelines as set out by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources before they are approved for import into Bermuda.

In February, when the ban on Roundup was relaxed, the Government outlined that the science surrounding glyphosate-based herbicides was an “evolving area” and that their use was still being reviewed.

The spokeswoman added: “The Ministry of Public Works, in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, have been conducting trials of organic herbicides, insecticides and nematicides, with the intention of adopting these for use in Bermuda if found to be effective.”

The parent who originally contacted this newspaper said that while he was happy that the product had been banned from playgrounds, he hoped that the Government would go further and inform the public where it is being used so they have the choice to avoid it.

“Not using it in playgrounds is a huge first step,” he said. “But I would hope it would go further than that. The best solution would be to not use it at all and just pull the weeds out and not use poison to get the weeds out.

“At the very least if they are using it in places that the public can come into contact with it they should put up signs saying they have done it.”

This newspaper has filed a request under the Public Access to Information Act 2010 to find out at which playgrounds and public parks the products under review are being applied.

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Published Apr 29, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 29, 2016 at 6:42 am)

Controversial pesticide ‘used at playground’

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