As you may be aware, Transition Hobsons Bay is a volunteer run community group inspiring a positive future in the face of increasing economic instability, peak oil and climate change. This letter is about Council's use of herbicide chemicals, especially glyphosate based ones (e.g. Round Up).
In March glyphosate was reclassified by the World Health Organisation as a 'probable carcinogen' (http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Glyphosate_Probably_Carcinogenic_to_Humans.php). Then in May Denmark’s Working Environment Authority declared glyphosate to be 'carcinogenic' (https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/roundup-listed-carcinogen-danish-authority).
In March 2013 Kate Leslie enquired about the herbicides used by Council. Following up on Kate's enquiry in May 2013, she was told that “ball park” 500 litres of Round Up was used a year. Kate was also subsequently emailed a list of approved herbicides for use. The Council employee from Parks commented in that email “the majority of the time the Parks guys use Round Up but we need to have others on the list for different circumstances or weeds.“
In these circumstances, prudent risk management would require glyphosate-based herbicides be discontinued immediately. We request that Council's policies in regard to the use of glyphosate is reviewed and in the meantime no glyphosate is purchased. We have heard that City of Maribyrnong is undertaking a similar review.
By definition an effective herbicide is one that kill weeds, by definition it is toxic to at least some life. In our view it was only a matter of time before all toxic chemicals are found to be toxic to humans too. It is a strange time we live in that humans see ourselves as separate from, rather than a part of the web of life.
We understand that “approved herbicides” also contain preservatives, dyes, surfactants and other substances (http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/roundup-weed-killer-is-toxic-to-human-cells.-study-intensifies-debate-over-inert-ingredients). These so-called 'inert' ingredients are not required to be listed on the label, yet around one quarter already have been found to be hazardous (http://safersolutions.org.au/a/21-a-z-of-chemicals/i/103-inert-ingredients.html). Moreover we understand councils routinely tank mix chemicals to save spraying twice (e.g. Round Up and Simazine). And there is neither toxicology data, nor human health studies for this combination of chemicals. Are Council workers or their contractors using combinations of chemicals?
It would be quite unsatisfactory to substitute one herbicide and its unlabelled “inert ingredients” (Round Up) for other chemical herbicide cocktails. We ask that no synthetic (potentially toxic) chemical combinations are used in the muncipality. One option we are aware of is Weedsteamers, which we understand has a track record of working with local councils (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Weedsteamers/244018529073587). However, Council is likely to be in a better position than us to assess the options.
As this letter (http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Independent_Scientists_Manifesto_on_Glyphosate.php) says “For the sake of the planet, our children and our grandchildren, all spraying of glyphosate herbicides should be immediately replaced with eco-friendly alternatives that restore damaged food webs. We urge you to have the courage to stop the destruction of life on our planet as leaders for future generations.”
We look forward to your response.
Transition Hobsons Bay
Alessandra Miori, Alison Peake, Andrea Maertens, Belinda Young, Carol Challis, Chloe Vassallo, Christine McDonald, Claudia Vinson, Dominique Hes, Donna Livermore, Doug Palmer, Frances Lourey, Gyorgyi Marek, Hellie Lynch, Jamie Crickmay, Janet Down, Jason Ashwell, Joanna Cruickshank, Jodie McQueen, Jonathan Mifsud, Kate Leslie, Kate Wednesday, Kristen Beadle, Linda Warwick, Lisa Field, Louise Vassallo, Marie Perillo, Michelle Fisher, Nadia Elraoui, Rowena Joske, Susie Zuzek, Tiffany Westphal and Wendy Clarke.
Transition Hobsons Bay
*Creating more resilient and healthier neighbourhoods*