Wadson calls for glyphosate ban
A farmer has urged the Government to ban importation of a controversial weedkiller over health and environmental concerns.
Tom Wadson, of Wadson's Farm, said it was “morally wrong” to allow glyphosate-based weedkiller, the most common of which is Roundup, which is produced by Monsanto, to be used in Bermuda.
Mr Wadson said: “That stuff is really bad news. It's not an old chemical. It happened in our lifetimes, but it has already messed up a lot of stuff.”
He said that in addition to studies that linked the chemical to cancer, reports have suggested glyphosate “binds” metals to the soil, which made grass less nutritious for animals.
Mr Wadson said alternatives were available including other chemicals products such as Finale, but the Government should consider non-chemical options like steam.
He said: “All you have to do is get the cell walls of the plant to a certain temperature.
“The equipment is commercially available. They would just need to spend money on equipment and maintenance instead of chemicals.
“We need to lose Roundup now. It's a no-brainer. It has to go.”
In a letter sent to a member of the public concerned about Roundup, Drew Pettit, the director of the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, said a ban on products containing more than 2 per cent glyphosate was in force in Bermuda.
However, he added that ready-to-use products with lower concentrations of the chemical, are allowed.
Mr Pettit wrote: “It has been argued that there is no one product that is superior to glyphosate, in respect to weed management and cost effectiveness.
“Emerging evidence suggests that there is the risk that alternative products could be more deleterious to the environment and the health of the public.”
He added: “The DENR recognises the potential hazard presented by pesticides as a whole and supports the controlled usage of pesticides, botanical, microbial and synthetic, as illustrated in the draft integrated vegetation management plan 2018, for roadside management developed by this department.”
Mr Pettit said environmental and human health concern were taken into account by the policy, which limited the use of the chemical. He said: “This policy minimises the commercial use of these types of products, limiting the exposure to their active ingredient to humans and to the environment, while at the same time allowing for judicious use in certain circumstances.”
A Ministry of Home Affairs spokesman said: “Careful evaluation is conducted by the Plant Protection Laboratory of the DENR in consultation with the Department of Health on each pesticide presented for importation into Bermuda.
“Further, the Plant Protection Laboratory re-evaluates on an ongoing basis.”
The use of glyphosate studies has been controversial since studies linked the chemical with cancer. A World Health Organisation agency classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in 2015.
More than 42,000 lawsuits have been filed against the first firm to use the chemical, Monsanto, which is now owned by Bayer, over cancer complaints since then. Roundup was banned in Bermuda in 2015, but the ban was relaxed in early 2016 after the Government had talks with Monsanto representatives.