Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Roundup still used in parks and schools despite possible cancer link -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: It's the most commonly used pesticide in Australia - glyphosate, best known as Roundup.

It's used by households, farms, and local councils around the country to kill weeds.

But last year the World Health Organization found glyphosate probably causes cancer.

Australia's regulator, the Pesticide Authority, is now re-assessing its dangers, but says that investigation won't be finished for at least three months.

As Josie Taylor reports, councils continue to spray the chemical around parks, playgrounds and schools.

JOSIE TAYLOR: Pensioner Jody Borland lives in public housing and relies on her chemical-free garden for fresh produce.

JODY BORLAND: And it self-seeds out of my fence area, and I had a beautiful patch of coloured chard.

JOSIE TAYLOR: She was furious to see her local council, the Mount Alexander Shire, spray the area with the weed killer glyphosate.

JODY BORLAND: Well I yelled and screamed they were just willy-nillying it, it was like spraying water.

JOSIE TAYLOR: Jody Borland is amongst residents in central Victoria petitioning their local councils to stop using glyphosate, like Jacky Vincent from Bendigo.

JACKY VINCENT: I have two kids, four and seven. I don't want them to have Roundup or any type of glyphosate right around their school and I know it is, and this is a sad thing.

JOSIE TAYLOR: Last year the World Health Organization's International Agency for Researching Cancer found that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic for humans.

Insurer State Cover warned New South Wales councils to use the chemical with caution and investigate alternatives, but many continue to use it.

The Mount Alexander Shire last week rejected its residents' petition, saying glyphosate was the most effective and economical option.

Lawyer Dimi Ioannou is from law firm Maurice Blackburn.

DIMI IOANNOU: This is a real public safety issue.

If people have not been warned of the significant risk involved then, yes, later on down the track there could be potential law suits.

JOSIE TAYLOR: Australia's regulator, the Pesticide and Veterinary Medicine Authority, still classifies the weed killer as safe if handled properly.

The authority says it's reassessing the risks of glyphosate and is expected to make a decision in May or June.

About half of the regulator's $33 million budget comes from fees and levies paid by chemical companies - $1.5 million comes from glyphosate products.

The regulator denies that's a conflict of interest, saying in a statement:

APVMA: The existence of levies and or application fees paid by companies are not relevant or taken into consideration when the APVMA looks at the scientific basis of any review activity.

JOSIE TAYLOR: Tim Farrell runs a business that uses steam to kill weeds.

He says his method costs councils about $10 more per person per year than pesticides, but he says only about 30 councils from nearly 600 across the country are investigating this option.

TIM FARRELL: We can afford it and we need to do it. We've already been warned, it's time to change now.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Weed steaming business owner Tim Farrell ending Josie Taylor's report.