Irish group joins Europe-wide campaign to ban glyphosates
There are growing calls in Ireland to ban controversial weedkiller glyphosate.
Irish campaign group Uplift is hoping to get 9,000 people to sign an EU-wide petition to ban the chemical, which a World Health Organisation body has said "probably" causes cancer.
That finding is disputed by the EU's food safety and chemicals agencies, which say it is unlikely to be carcinogenic to humans.
The contradictory research led to a blazing row last year over the renewal of glyphosate's EU licence, with the European Commission temporarily extending it until the end of 2017.
Ireland has the second-highest levels of glyphosate in surface water, after Sweden, according to EFSA, which also detected the chemical in Irish ground water and drinking water. Earlier this year, a group of NGOs launched a special EU-wide petition, known as a European Citizens' Initiative, to ban glyphosate, which needs a million signatures spread across at least seven EU countries to force the Commission to act.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup, has already been partially banned in France and the Netherlands, and the Commission has suggested minimising its use in public places and before harvest time.
"Glyphosate is causing untold damage to our health, environment and wildlife, including bees," said Uplift executive director Siobhán O'Donoghue. "Uplift members refuse to stand by and let companies such as Monsanto continue to control government policy and thinking. We have a chance to finally get glyphosate banned at EU level."
But the Irish Farmers' Association says the issue is being used as a "political football", while farmers have complained that there are no viable alternatives to aid weed control.