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Council use of glyphosate increases to three-year high

A Freedom of Information request has revealed an increase in the use of the controversial weedkiller in 2020.

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Campaigners calling on the Council to ban the use of glyphosate.

Graham Wroe

The amount of controversial weedkiller glyphosate used by Sheffield City Council increased in 2020 despite calls for it to be banned, according to a newly-released Freedom of Information (FoI) request.

4,680.95 tons of the substance, which is the active ingredient in products like Roundup, were used by the Council and its subcontractors in 2020. This compares to 4,211.5 litres in 2019 and 4,525 litres in 2018.

Green activist Graham Wroe, who made the information request, said on his blog: “Despite strong warnings about the dangers both to the workers and to nature, no real effort has been made to reduce the amounts [of glyphosate] used [by the Council] over the last five years.

“It is very disappointing that no trials have yet taken place on the various other alternatives to glyphosate that are detailed on the Pesticides Action Network website.”

In July, the Council debated a petition started by Wroe and signed by 6,384 people asking them to stop using the weedkiller altogether.

Glyphosate is widely used by councils in the UK to make public spaces look neat, even though this substantially reduces biodiversity.

Designed to kill weeds and other invasive species, studies have shown that the substance also kills beneficial insects and harms other kinds of wildlife, such as bees and butterflies.

In November 2018, a Californian court ordered Monsanto to pay $83 million (£64 million) in damages to a groundskeeper who developed terminal cancer after using their product Roundup.

Wroe's FoI also revealed that the Council have been trialling a "natural weed management solution" called Katoun Gold, though they said the results were "less than satisfactory."

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