Riverina councils have continued the use of the country’s most popular weedkiller Roundup, despite the controversy surrounding the American court case.
While Byron Shire and Cook Shire councils have taken steps to achieve a chemical-free weed killing method, Riverina councils argued that Roundup is still the safest option.
Director of environmental planning Colin Kane said that the Greater Hume Council is still utilising Roundup to kill roadside vegetation.
“We are continuing to use this product under the Australian guidelines,” Mr Kane said.
“We’re a rural council and so we are mostly using this product to knock down the growth from the side of the road for the safety of drivers.
“In spring this vegetation grows and I think the alternative of not using it at all would be detrimental to road safety.”
Last month Roundup, which contains the chemical glyphosate, was pushed into the spotlight by a multi-million dollar payout to a US groundskeeper who claims the product has given him cancer.
The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority in 2016 reviewed the potential risks associated with glyphosate use and confirmed that it is safe to use.
We are aware some councils are trialing a steam method, however in rural weed control this method in its current form is not considered an efficient or viable option for council’s requirements.A Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council spokesperson said.
Wagga’s environment and city compliance manager Mark Gardiner said the council uses a range of chemicals to control weeds, including glyphosate.
“All chemicals are used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and council’s work health and safety guidelines,” he said.
Wagga based Professor Jim Pratley from the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovations argued that this is a case of “fake news” and glyphosate is critical to farming.
“Glyphosate is a fundamental part of our conservation agriculture which is practised by probably 90 per cent of farmers,” Prof. Pratley said.
“It was the saviour chemical in mitigating the soil erosion that occurred on farms resulting from cultivation.
“The alternative options to phosphate are certainly much less safe.”
Contract manager for weed control at the Coolamon, Junee and Temora Shires Robert Ferguson held a similar point of view.
He argued that Australia should not be influenced by an overseas court system that is not based on scientific evidence.
“The United Nations came out and made a statement on the health impacts of using glyphosate and it said it ‘may have a detrimental effect’”, Mr Ferguson said.
“I mean too much red meat can have a detrimental effect, high cholesterol does; to me, it’s just a scam.
“This court case has been immediately subject to challenge and at this point in time Roundup is legal, registered and approved by the APVMA.”
“It is the safest and most effective product for the job and until something changes or the shire takes a different position, we will continue to use Roundup as per the guidelines.”
Mr Ferguson is also the Riverina Weed Committee member for Leeton.
The Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council has also continued using Roundup for various weed control works.
“CGRC has investigated the Roundup issue, and at this stage a safer, equally efficient or viable alternative to its use in weed control has not been identified,” a CGRC spokesperson said.
“We are aware some councils are trialing a steam method, however in rural weed control this method in its current form is not considered an efficient or viable option for council’s requirements.”
Spokespeople from the Murrumbidgee and Griffith Council have said Roundup is still used and there are no plans to change.
The Daily Advertiser approached the Snow Valleys Council, however they declined to comment.
Iaian Stuckings from the Murrumbidgee Riverina Weeds Committee said he was “not aware” that any Riverina councils have stopped or seeked an alternative product to kill weeds.