Homebase, B&Q begin reviews
In the article below, the National Farmers Union's Guy Smith predictably dismisses the court ruling in favour of Dewayne Johnson and against Monsanto regarding Roundup's carcinogenicity as "The opinion of some lay people on a California jury".
Smith omits to mention that the "lay people" were only able to form their opinion based on the testimony of expert witnesses – scientists who are convinced that glyphosate herbicides can cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Regarding the strength of evidence against Monsanto, it's significant that the vast majority of incriminating internal Monsanto documents were kept from the jury due to Monsanto objections – but the jury still found against the company.
Over the next few months and years, hundreds more cases will come to court, and Monsanto will not be able to keep those documents secret.
DIY chains "reviewing product ranges" as US court says groundskeeper's cancer was caused by weedkiller
by Joel Adams
The Telegraph, 11 Aug 2018
The UK’s biggest DIY chains have announced they are reviewing the safety of their weedkillers, as a US court ruled a commonly-used ingredient had given a man cancer.
Homebase confirmed it was undertaking a review following a California jury’s decision to award a groundskeeper $289million after concluding the weedkiller Roundup had caused his terminal non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
B&Q also confirmed that it is reviewing its products, although it said it began prior to the verdict. Between them the two companies have nearly 600 stores.
The US jury found Roundup’s manufacturer, agri-business giant Monsanto, failed to warn consumers about known health risks. Monsanto will appeal the verdict and has insisted the product is safe.
Roundup is legal for sale throughout the EU including the UK.
Its active ingredient, glyphosate, kills all plant life and since Monsanto’s patent expired in 2000 it can be found in most commercial and industrial weed killers worldwide.
Farmers spray glyphosate on fields after harvesting one year’s crop and before planting the next, to ensure a weed-free crop.
In the EU its use was relicensed for five years last October, by 18 votes to nine. The UK, Germany and Poland voted in favour of its continued use, but Belgium and France were among those to vote against. President Macron said the chemical would be banned by the French government within three years.
In 2015 a study by the World Health Organisation for the UN concluded the chemical was “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
But the US Environmental Protection Agency says it is safe to use and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which is the authorising body for EU countries, concluded in 2015 it is unlikely to cause cancer in humans.
A spokeswoman for Homebase said yesterday, “In light of the news we will be reviewing our product range.”
A spokeswoman for B&Q told The Telegraph last night: “We continually aim to manage our garden products responsibly and have a record of acting ahead of legislation where appropriate; we led the way in removing three pesticides in 2013 and neonicotinoids from our flowering plants in 2018.
“We offer alternatives to glyphosates and we are currently undertaking a broader review of all our garden products.”
She said the company's broader review of garden products was already underway in advance of Friday’s US court ruling.
Opponents of the pesticide called for an outright ban.
Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said, “This is compelling evidence that the EU urgently needs to revisit the case for a ban and reverse its previous decision.
“And if the UK Government is serious about safeguarding our protections after a possible Brexit, it must change its own position and immediately announce an intention to ban glyphosate now.”
However, farmers warned such a move would be costly and counterproductive.
National Farmers’ Union deputy president Guy Smith said: “Our position hasn’t changed since last year.
“The scientific community reviewed the evidence and concluded it was safe and should be reauthorised.
“The opinion of some lay people on a California jury, we don’t think, affects our approach to this.”
He said the efficacy of glyphosate made food yields higher, food costs lower, and cut greenhouse emissions by reducing the use of tractors to prepare fields for planting.
Yesterday a spokesman for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “The Government’s priority is the protection of people and the environment.
“Decisions on the use of pesticides should be based on a careful scientific assessment of the risks.
“Once outside the EU, we will continue to make decisions on pesticides based on the best available science.”
The Friday decision by a San Francisco court to award groundskeeper DeWayne Johnson $289 million - including $250 in punitive damages - may now form part of a broader legal attack on GM food in the US.
More than 5,000 other plaintiffs have similar cases against Monsanto, which was recently bought by German firm Bayer AG.
Nearly one-fifth of the global total of 8.5 billion kilograms of glyphosate estimated to have been sprayed since its discovery the 1970s has been sprayed in the US, where its use increased exponentially after 1996 when so-called "Roundup-Ready" crops, genetically modified to tolerate glyphosate, were approved and began to be farmed.
Wyevale Garden Centres and Amazon.co.uk, who also sell glyphosate in the UK, declined to comment.
Pharmaceutical firm Bayer, which owns Monsanto, has dismissed the claims that an ingredient used in the weed killer is carcinogenic. On Saturday, the German firm insisted that herbicides containing glyphosate are safe.