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Auckland spray is “probably carcinogenic”

Weed Management Advisory – Media Release – 22nd March 2015

The World Health Organisation’s cancer research arm, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), has this week re-classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

The IARC reassessment published in the Journal Lancet Oncology is a wake- up call for Auckland Council and Auckland Transport says the Weed Management Advisory group (WMA).

Speaking from New York where she is one of the authors of UNEP’s forthcoming global assessment of gender and the environment, Dr Meriel Watts said that the use of this chemical on the roads, parks and sports fields in Auckland cannot now continue in the face of this latest damning assessment.

“For more than 25 years we have known of the evidence that glyphosate can cause cancer. But the regulators in New Zealand, and in other countries, have refused to heed it. As a result, countless numbers of children have been exposed to this chemical from roadside weed spraying as they walk to school, and in the parks and sports fields where they play” said Dr Watts.

“Children are particularly susceptible to carcinogens”.

Dr Watts, who is a scientist and author has published several authoritative books on the subject of pesticides and cancer including her 2013 “Poisoning Our Future: Children and Pesticides” which details the scientific evidence for the insidious effects of pesticides on children.

“Children are not little adults. The activities they do make them more prone to accumulate pesticides in their bodies; and their developing bodies make them more prone to the negative effects of these toxic chemicals like glyphosate. Yet, governments and industry overlook these impacts on children’s health despite the availability of safer alternatives.”

The WMA says that they have been documenting, detailing and promoting these safer alternatives for years and that Auckland Council and Auckland Transport must wake-up now, drop their baffling and disturbing opposition to nonchemical weed management, and stop using glyphosate.

“It is totally unacceptable to continue to expose people, and especially children, to glyphosate in light of this ruling from the IARC,” said Dr Watts. She emphasised that the IARC is a conservative scientific body “and if they say that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen we can be sure that it is”.

The WMA said they will be pursuing this urgently with Auckland Council, especially in view of the fact that the Long Term Plan budget proposes dropping nonchemical weed control in favour of increasing the use of pesticides.

Hana Blackmore said this flies in the face of all reason, Council’s own adopted policy, and the 2014 Human Rights Impact Assessment that confirms that continuing to expose Aucklanders to these toxic chemical sprays is a violation of their human rights.

“Both Auckland Council and Auckland Transport have a fundamental duty to keep people safe and protect their health and wellbeing. They need to take this latest UN Report and our human rights seriously, and eliminate these chemicals from our environment and our children’s lives” said Hana Blackmore.

The WMA will be presenting to Auckland Council before Easter.

Lancet article is here: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(15)70134-8/fulltext