Petition Ban the use of Round Up and all products containing glyphosate in the Island.
Glyphosate has been found to be dangerous to humans and animals. Multiple countries are banning it. Recently a groundsman in America was awarded $280million in damages because the court agreed Round Up caused his cancer. It is creeping in to our food chain and is unacceptable.
This response was given on 11 January 2019
There is currently insufficient evidence to justify a ban of products containing glyphosate, and we will continue to monitor E.U. & U.K. professional authorities’ advice and respond appropriately.
Ministers and scientific officers within the Growth, Housing and Environment (GHE) department of the States of Jersey have carefully considered the petition and respond below to each point within the petition.
“Glyphosate has been found to be dangerous to humans and animals”.
Glyphosate is a organophosphorus compound that inhibits a metabolic route (Shikimate pathway) used by plants, bacteria and other single-celled and simple life forms for the biosynthesis of folates and certain amino acids. The Shikimate pathway is not found in humans or animals and so glyphosate has no effect on their metabolic processes.
GHE has neither the expertise nor the facilities to independently evaluate human or animal pesticide toxicology and so relies on the findings of European Union (E.U.) and United Kingdom (U.K.) expert regulatory bodies. These bodies currently approve glyphosate and authorise glyphosate-based products, and Jersey is currently following this approach. We do not agree with the petition’s claim that glyphosate “has been found to be dangerous to humans and animals”. To do so would be to accept that evidence that supports that statement has been wrongfully rejected by the E.U. and U.K. experts and we do not believe this to be the case.
In relation to the perceived dangers to human and animal health such as cancers and a number of other acute and chronic diseases, a detailed position statement was published on www.gov.je on the 26 September 2017. The statement sets out the position of a number of major approval / authorisation agencies regarding the lack of evidence to support claims of glyphosate carcinogenicity. The statement also refers to the U.K’s Health and Safety Executive statement that “all pesticide products must be shown to pose no unacceptable risks to people or the environment before an approval or authorisation is granted”. In this context, ‘unacceptable risks’ includes the consideration of potential human diseases and adverse health effects in addition to cancers. All such risks are constantly evaluated and re-evaluated by independent experts that comprise the European Union (E.U.) and United Kingdom (U.K.) regulatory bodies. These bodies operate according to a wide range of stringent legislation (such as Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 and the U.K. Plant Protection Products Regulations 2011) and consider all relevant peer-reviewed scientific and medical literature to ensure that all qualifying criteria are met before approving a pesticide or authorising a pesticide product.
“Multiple countries are banning it.”
It is acknowledged that the use of glyphosate is restricted in some countries. However, our research has failed to identify any country which has completely banned glyphosate. One possible exception is possibly El Salvador where a ban was introduced some years ago and the current status of this ban is unknown.
The petition includes a link to a Reuters story (06.08.2018) that refers to a Brazilian federal judge injunction, suspending the use of products containing glyphosate in Brazil, in August 2018. This injunction was overturned during the following month by a higher court which stated that the injunction was not justified. Currently, glyphosate-based products remain authorised for use within that country.
“Recently a groundsman in America was awarded $280million in damages because the court agreed Roundup caused his cancer”.
It is correct that in August 2018 a US jury awarded damages to a groundskeeper who is dying of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Monsanto, the maker of the week killer Roundup, were sued, claiming that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, caused the cancer.
It is recognised that, as a civil action, the aggravating circumstances only have to be proven by a preponderance of evidence; this is not the same degree of burden of proof that has to be produced in a criminal case, when those same aggregating circumstances must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. It is believed that Monsanto plan to file an appeal of the verdict.
“It is creeping in to our food chain and is unacceptable”.
GHE officers (previously within the Department of the Environment) routinely carry out pesticide residue analysis on all edible crops produced in the island. Records (kept for a minimum of 10 years) confirm that glyphosate residues have never been found in Jersey-grown produce.
Similarly, glyphosate residues have never been detected in Jersey milk. The petition includes two links to a report produced by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a Washington D.C. public health advocacy group, which claim that unsafe levels of glyphosate have been detected in oat-based cereal products produced for the U.S. market. Simply put, EWG have taken the proposed California acceptable daily intake (also known as the reference dose in the U.S.) for glyphosate of 1.1 mg per kg of body weight and divided that amount by 100 to obtain their own proposed limit of .011 mg/kg of bodyweight. They justify the 100 times reduction by reference to a proposal from the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) that some contaminants increase lifetime cancer risks by a factor of 10 and a proposal in the U.S. Food Quality Protection Act which supports an additional 10-fold margin of safety for children unless there is data to suggest such a margin is unnecessary. However, these two proposals are not supported by the overwhelming majority of peer-reviewed science in respect of glyphosate and so EWG’s acceptable maximum limit of .011 mg/kg should be accepted as being arbitrary in nature. EWG subsequently claim that limits set by the California authorities are insufficient and because glyphosate levels in oat-based cereals exceed their own (arbitrary) limit, they are unsafe.
We reject their conclusions of unsafeness based on the fact that the levels of glyphosate detected are far below the limit imposed by the U.K. Health and Safety Executive 0.5 mg per kg of bodyweight. Using the U.K. limit, it can be shown that a 50 Kg person would have to consume a minimum of 25 Kg of the same oat-based cereals per day before the acceptable daily intake limit was reached.
Furthermore, the EWG work involves U.S. oat cereal products only and not those available in the U.K. and in Jersey. We also point out that Jersey does not produce oats or any other cereals for use in the human food chain and that glyphosate is not used locally on any cereal crops to accelerate grain drying. In summary, glyphosate has never been detected in any locally grown produce; as such, we do not accept that the argument that “it is creeping into our food chain” is relevant in respect of a ban on the use of glyphosate on edible crops in Jersey.
The Jersey pesticide regulatory system relies on the robust scientific approach taken by the E.U. and the U.K. (both of which are notably pesticide risk-averse jurisdictions). At the E.U. level, regular and ongoing reviews since the early 1990s have resulted in the revocation of approvals for hundreds of pesticide active ingredients based on new information, tightened criteria and evidence provision requirements. When approvals are revoked at the E.U. level, they automatically fall away in the U.K. Pesticide products (i.e. formulations containing pesticide active ingredients and co-formulants) are assessed, reviewed and authorised at Member State level and products that are authorised by the U.K. are, in most cases, automatically authorised in Jersey as well. Exceptions to this occur if there is sufficient evidence to suggest that a pesticide product is unsuitable when factors such as local environmental conditions or environmental fate are considered. These considerations are undertaken by the Natural Environment team within GHE, who regularly assess the characteristics of pesticide products and which, if required, acts to restrict or prevent use if there is any suspicion that they may be unsuitable for use within the island.
The standard of professional use of pesticides in Jersey has never been higher, with compulsory training, record keeping and calibration of equipment now standard. Additionally the majority of pesticide applications made in agriculture are now subject to external audit under internationally recognised schemes.
There are a number of glyphosate-based home landscape and garden products, such as Roundup, available to buy from garden centres and other retail channels. These contain varying concentrations of the glyphosate active ingredient. Users require no training or qualification to use these products, and should always follow the product instructions to ensure their safe and effective use and to minimise the risk of pollution. GHE plans to introduce and implement new codes of practice, including one specifically aimed at amateur pesticide users. It is also considering the introduction of new legislation that will ensure that retailers that sell pesticides to the general public have suitably trained staff to advise and educate customers in the use of such products.
Finally, The States of Jersey are aware of the current situation in France, in which synthetic pesticides have been restricted for amateur use and in certain public spaces. We are in communication with the French Regulatory authorities on this matter to establish the reasoning and monitor the outcome.
Minister for the Environment
At 5,000 signatures...
At 5,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in the States Assembly