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Ban Dangerous Weedkiller

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


GMB will not sit idly by while members are exposed to this chemical - and employers shouldn’t either

GMB, Britain’s general union, is demanding a "probably" carcinogenic ingredient used in weedkiller is banned before more lives are put at risk.

Glyphosate is the key ingredient in a powerful herbicide which is the most commonly used weedkiller in the world – and available in various easy to purchase items in shops in the UK.

It can be found in many industrial and domestic weedkilling products across the UK - despite the fact that in 2015 the World Health Organisation classified the chemical as "probably carcinogenic". [2]

In August, a jury in the United States awarded Dewayne Johnson $289 million after it determined that glyphosate exposure at work had substantively contributed to his terminal illness; Mr Johnson was diagnosed with terminal non-Hodgkins lymphoma. [2]

The trial exposed a range of poor practices by manufacturer Monsanto, the jury concluded that Monsanto had attempted to muddy the waters over whether glyphosate causes cancer. Monsanto has said that it will appeal the verdict.

There have long been concerns over the potential health risks from glyphosate exposure, but the chemicals industry have been quick to point to a lack of research findings pointing to clear harm being proven.

The major health risk identified was until recently concern over stomach bacteria. It can also cause discomfort if it is breathed in.

Exposure to the eyes can result in conjunctivitis. If swallowed it may cause corrosion of the throat and can lead to kidney or liver failure.

Glyphosate is commonly used in agriculture, forestry and horticulture. GMB members at potential risk include parks staff, agricultural workers, gardeners, and some forestry workers.

It is not only those who spraying the weedkiller who may be at risk, but also those working around them when the herbicide is being applied.

GMB says it is time the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) must ban Glyphosate before more lives are put at risk.

The use of glyphosate is already prohibited in public parks and gardens in some European countries.

Meanwhile GMB has issued new advice for those forced to work with the chemical. [2]

Dan Shears, GMB National Officer, said:

“GMB is clear the guidance from the World Health Organisation should be heeded and glyphosate must be treated as a severe health risk to the general public.

“In situations like this, surely it is better to be safe not sorry?

“Employers should stop using glyphosates immediately and replace it with safer alternatives - many of which have been trialled by councils in the UK.

“If this is not immediately possible, anyone exposed to products containing glyphosates must be given protective equipment.

“GMB will not sit idly by while members are exposed to this chemical - and employers shouldn’t either."


Contact: Press Office on 07958 156846 or at

Notes to Editors:

[1] In March 2015, The World Health Organisation’s International Agency on Research into Carcinogens (IARC) announced that glyphosate probably caused a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This was based on a study of agricultural workers in Sweden, Canada and the USA who were exposed to the chemical, although it was backed up by tests on animals.


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