Snowy Valleys Council will continue to use the chemical glyphosate as part of its weed-killing activities, despite the Batlow Development League urging the council to stop using the chemical in the town.
Used by everyone from amateur gardeners to farmers, glyphosate is a big-selling product of American biotechnology giant Monsanto.
Glyphosate was introduced in the 1970s under the brand Roundup but is now manufactured generically. It’s the most produced weedkiller in the world.
However, the Batlow Development League wants the council to stop using the chemical on Yellowin Road and Memorial Avenue, including near the swimming pool, until an investigation into the risk environmental health impacts of using glyphosate is conducted.
The development league wanted the council to undertake a full investigation as to what alternatives could be used in weed spraying across the shire, and wanted a full report, but the council declined the request.
The council’s director assets and infrastructure Matthew Christensen said he was confident council staff were administering the chemical in accordance with the required standards.
He also noted it would be difficult to get a definitive answer as to whether the chemical was safe or not, with much of the science concerning the issue contested.
“It’s an important aspect of the parks and gardens routine,” he said.
“The council’s procedures in administering it are undertaken in according with the safety data sheets, which not only looks after the person applying it but also the residual affects of using it.”
Snowy Valleys Councillor Corr Smit conceded there was debate about whether or not glyphosate was safe to use, while Cr Margaret Isselmann said it would be unwise for the council to spray certain areas, and not others, with the chemical.
“We either use it everywhere, or we don’t use it at all,” Cr Isselmann said, pointing out that Tumut Shire Council had previously considered the safety of using glyphosate.
Four years ago Tumut Council took a look at the chemical, writing to the Department of Health as well as the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) asking for their opinion and advice on the chemical.
At the time, the UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate, as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
France subsequently announced a ban on the sale of Roundup from garden centres.
Monsanto strongly contested the UN agency’s classification, saying relevant and scientific data was excluded from the review.
In Australia, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Association has ruled products containing glyphosate are safe to use as per the label instructions.
The US EPA also found the chemical probably wasn’t cancer-causing, as did the World Health Organisation’s pesticides committee.