There is ample scientific evidence that herbicides used to kill weeds can cause long-term damage to pollinator insects. There are now emerging links to impacts on human health.
In two recent high profile US cases taken by individuals who developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the courts found that years of use of the popular weedkiller Roundup had caused the cancer.
Last year, its manufacturer Bayer agreed to settle a wave of lawsuits over the potential carcinogenic effects of the herbicide that is readily available in Irish hardwares stores.
While several EU countries no longer permit the use of herbicides such as Roundup near playgrounds, schools or public parks, their general sale and use is largely unrestricted in Ireland.
Alongside home use in gardens, it continues to be used by several councils and other authorities in parks and other public facilities. A risk assessment is meant to take place prior to use.
A 2019 EU Audit, however, found that it is not verified that risk assessments are carried out, meaning that the Irish system cannot ensure herbicides are only used when there is no other viable option available.
HELP US INVESTIGATE
We will use Freedom of Information to better understand the extent of chemical weed killers and other herbicide use by State bodies and local authorities, and examine successful examples where alternative nature-based solutions have been implemented.
Under EU law, retailers who sell herbicides must record details of those who buy the product for professional purposes, the amount sold and the date of the purchase. We want to find out if retailers are adhering to the rules, and if not, what action, if any, the State has taken to date.
We also want to compare restrictions in other EU States on the non-agricultural use of herbicides to rules currently in place in Ireland, and speak to experts about what needs to happen here to bring us in line with some of our EU neighbours.
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