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Farmer urges rethink over lifting Rodeo ban

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Farmer Tom Wadson on his farm in Southampton (File photograph)

Farmer Tom Wadson has urged the Bermuda Government to reconsider its decision to lift the ban on the weed killer Rodeo.

Environmental charity Greenrock has also spoken out in support of the ban, urging residents to attend a public meeting on the Glyphosate Monitoring Study Draft Report today.

The Government report, written by environmental engineer Geoff Smith, who was tasked to look into the risks of the weed control glyphosate from road spraying, was published last year recommending that the ban be lifted. Dr Smith found that there were no significant adverse health effects detected from the chemical’s use.

But Mr Wadson, who runs Wadson’s Farm in Southampton, has expressed concern at the Government report’s conclusion and has written to the Minister of Health, Jeanne Atherden, urging her to reconsider the decision to lift the ban. He has also highlighted an article in September’s edition of Acres USA that draws links between glyphosate and modern diseases.

“We should seriously look at this article before we make any unwise decisions regarding glyphosate.

“I would also recommend that Government read the work of Professor Emeritus Dr Don Huber at Purdue University that shows it is affecting animal and apparently human reproduction as well. Bermuda must do its part in not allowing this product to be used here.”

A new study published in the Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry by an MIT researcher and a New Hampshire-based research scientist, reveals that glyphosate may act as a pathway for modern diseases.

According to the researchers, epidemiological studies have revealed a strong correlation between the increasing incidence in the United States of a large number of chronic diseases and the increased use of the herbicide on corn, soy and wheat crops.

Mr Wadson said: “There has been some mention about Bermuda’s food security.

“I see glyphosate use locally as an absolute threat to growing clean food. I would go so far as to say that glyphosate clearly compromises our ability to even consider certified organic production of food locally.

“If one looks at the recent heavy rains, it is quite clear that road runoff absolutely goes into fields, marshes and the ocean.”

Meanwhile, Greenrock stated it could not support Dr Smith’s recommendations, citing concerns over the scope of the study “being too narrowly focused on public health”.

“While this is no doubt important, the impact of glyphosate is much wider in terms of its environmental impact, particularly as regards pollinators such as bee populations,” it said.

“There is growing evidence that glyphosate negatively impairs the navigational abilities of bees, which may contribute — along with the use of neonicotinoid pesticides and other factors — on declining bee populations, in Bermuda and globally.”

The organisation also has concerns about the metrics used in the study, adding that while the levels found locally fall within the limits advised by the World Health Organisation and the European Union Food Safety Agency, “we understand that more recent scientific studies have concluded that these need to be changed to a much-reduced amount”.

Greenrock recommended a “precautionary principle” that “denotes a duty to prevent harm, when it is in our power to do so, even when all the evidence is not in”.

It added: “From our perspective there is enough scientific doubt concerning the impact of glyphosate from both a human and environmental health perspective (particularly around bees) to justify the banning of glyphosate use in Bermuda.”

Greenrock further recommended extending the ban to include neonicotinoids.

The public meeting will be held today at 5.30pm at Wesley Methodist Church Hall.

For more information, see the PDF under “Related Media”.

• This article was amended to confirm that the meeting takes place today (Thursday) at 5.30pm.