Derry City and Strabane Council implemented a ban on the use of glyphosate-based herbicides in 2019, following years of public campaigning.
The decision had a direct bearing on all council employees and sub-contractors engaged by the council.
Now the campaign is on to have the ban made permanent and, in addition, for all central government departments in Northern Ireland to implement similar policies.
Leading the anti-glyphosate campaign is the ‘Hive Cancer Support Group’. Jacquie Loughery, a Derry-based member of the group, is also committed to making the city of Derry a ‘pesticide-free’ area in its entirety.
She said: “Chemicals, such as glyphosate, are causing severe damage to the environment and people’s health.”
Jacquie attended the recent public consultation meeting in Derry, profiling the future carbon budget options for Northern Ireland.
“The European Commission has already taken the decision to ban glyphosate. So it was important for the council to reflect this reality,” Loughery said.
“But it is important that the ban on glyphosate usage is made permanent and that other public bodies In Northern Ireland commit to a similar policy.”
Meanwhile, pressure is building across Europe to have the use of glyphosate banned completely.
Those who favor this approach point to the introduction of better crop rotations, the use of intercropping, the application of mulches and a great reliance on mechanical weeding systems in a post-glyphosate world.
Others point to the role model that is organic agriculture. They claim farmers committed to this form of production agriculture have shown that it is possible to produce food in ways that work with nature at a very fundamental level.
Glyphosate is currently for use in the EU until December 15, 2023. This means it can be used as an active substance in herbicide products until that date, subject to each product being authorized by national authorities following a safety evaluation.
In 2022, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) carried out a hazard assessment of glyphosate and concluded that it did not meet the scientific criteria to be classified as a carcinogenic, mutagenic or reprotoxic substance.
Glyphosate is the most widely used pesticide in the world. However, it has been linked to cancer and can be harmful to wildlife.
It was last approved for use in the EU back in 2017. The five-year license was extended for another 12 months last December.