Possible alternatives include hot water, electric shocks, or UV lights
Germany’s main train company, Deutsche Bahn, is set to phase out cancer-linked glyphosate herbicides on its 33,000 kilometres of tracks.
Railtrack companies are major users of glyphosate herbicide, so this is big news. Deutsche Bahn currently buys nearly 65 tonnes of the herbicide per year to stop weeds from propagating on its tracks.
German environment minister Svenja Schulze welcomed the initiative. "Glyphosate kills insects which is why we are going to ban it in Germany," she said.
The World Health Organization classifies glyphosate as a "probable" human carcinogen.
In December 2017, the European Union renewed the licence of glyphosate across Europe until 2022.
Among the alternatives that Deutsche Bahn is researching are hot water, electric shocks or UV lights.
Non-toxic alternatives for weed control are already being explored by rail networks in North America.