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Call for Belfast City Council to stop weedkiller use following landmark US lawsuit


Green Party councillor Georgina Milne. Credit: Green Party

Green Party councillor Georgina Milne. Credit: Green Party

Green Party councillor Georgina Milne. Credit: Green Party

A councillor has called on Belfast City Council to stop using weedkiller after a US lawsuit ruled it may cause cancer.

Green Party councillor Georgina Milne, who represents the Ormiston area of east Belfast, urged the council to take action after a landmark lawsuit in California ruled agriculture giant Monsanto should have warned users about the dangers of its Roundup and RangerPro weedkiller.

Monsanto, which is owned by German company Bayer, was ordered to pay £226m in damages to a man who claimed the product caused his cancer. Bayer told the BBC its products, which contain glyphosate, are safe for the public to use.

Cllr Milne said: "The World Health Organisation states that weedkiller probably causes cancer yet we spray it across our parks and green spaces. It's potentially dangerous for council staff who use the product often and it's devastating for insects, with the bee population hit particularly hard.

"Belfast City Council must apply the precautionary principle and protect workers, park users and wildlife by stopping the use of this product.

"I've raised this issue before with council and advocated for the use of non chemical methods to manage our parks and open spaces. I'll be revisiting the matter again in light of this damning and concerning judgement on the dangers of weedkiller use".

A Belfast City Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of Councillor Milne’s statement. When dealing with the issue of weeds in our parks, our gardeners use a Glysophate based herbicide, which we have been using for the past 20 years. The health and safety of our staff and the public who use our parks and open spaces is of paramount importance.”

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The claimant in the lawsuit, Dewayne Johnson, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2014. His lawyers said he regularly used a form of Roundup and a similar Monsanto product RangerPro while working at a school in Benicia, California.

He was among more than 5,000 similar plaintiffs across the US

Monstanto vice president Scott Partridge said hundreds of studies showed the herbicide does not cause cancer and said the company would appeal the verdict.

He told the Press Association: "Roundup has been safe for four decades and will continue to be safe. There is no credible scientific evidence that demonstrates otherwise.

"It is completely and totally safe and the public should not be concerned about this verdict, it is one that we will work through the legal process to see if we can get the right result. The science is crystal clear."

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