The makers of weed killer RoundUp, Bayer AG is up against a fast-approaching deadline in the US to settle remaining lawsuits over the use of its Roundup weedkiller. While this massive legal showdown takes place many councils in Far North Queensland are still using the controversial chemical.
Bayer Ag has reported ’significant progress’ on settlements, having finalised about 44,000 U.S. lawsuits, or about 35% of the more than 125,000 filed and unfiled cases alleging the herbicide causes cancer. In June, it said it had reached agreements in 75% of the cases, or about 94,000, as the centrepiece of an $11 billion comprehensive settlement.
Two class actions have been launched against Roundup in Australia and are still in their early stages. The first was led by a Melbourne gardener, who blamed his non-Hodgkin lymphoma, diagnosed in 2011 on Roundup.
In January of this year, the Douglas Shire Council followed in the footsteps of Austria, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic, and voted to ban the use of glyphosate (RoundUp) in 133 public locations across the Shire, including playgrounds, footpaths and retail areas.
The move came after the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer found in 2015 that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic.”
The Express Newspaper then asked other local councils what was their policy regarding Roundup.
The Cook Shire Council purchased a Steam Weeding machine in 2018 and in a statement wrote.“Steam weeding is currently used in areas where it is appropriate and effective to do so and the Cook Shire Council does not currently use the product Roundup,” they said
“Cook Shire Council is more than 105,000km2 making it the largest shire in Queensland according to land area; as such there are some areas where Cook Shire Council uses herbicides.
“In these instances, the products are used within recommended guidelines. Use of these products is monitored and regularly reviewed to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations.”
In a statement from the Mareeba Shire council.
“The Shire is 53,491 km². Currently, Roundup/Glyphosate is the only cost-effective method for vegetation management.”
“Council continuously monitors the market for cost-effective alternative methods of dealing with weeds. Council has no immediate plans to move away from using roundup as it is the most cost-effective method to deal with weeds. Council employees follow appropriate workplace health and safety requirements when dealing with any chemical or hazardous substance.”
Tablelands Regional Council wrote:
“We use pesticides and herbicides that are proven to be effective and provide value for money. At the same time, we trial new products and methodologies to improve effectiveness and reduce potential environmental and health impacts. Products and methodologies recently (or still being) trialled include: Steam weeding, BioWeed Organic, Slasher Organic Weedkiller, Slasher and Lynx mix.
“We mostly use WeedMaster Duo, which is glyphosate-based, frog-friendly and registered for use in aquatic environments.”
A Douglas shire Council spokesperson said:
“Douglas Shire Council adopted the Glyphosate Reduction Strategy during the previous 2019-20 Financial Year. One of the objectives under the strategy is to remove the use of glyphosate products in sensitive areas,’ they wrote
“Glyphosate is banned for use at all playgrounds, areas near schools or child care facilities. It is also banned for use on footpaths in CBD zones and retail areas. Glyphosate is not to be used in sensitive areas north of the Daintree River wherever possible and selective herbicides (non-glyphosate products) are to be used on a case by case site-specific basis.
“Council continues to use glyphosate to fulfil legal obligations in biosecurity and continues to investigate new reports and studies regarding glyphosate and any possible alternative options.
Selective herbicides (non-glyphosate products) are used on a case-by-case, site-specific basis.
The Etheridge Shire council was asked for comment but The Express did not receive a reply before deadline.