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Council to be quizzed on use of weedkiller claimed to cause birth defects

Wiltshire and Marlborough town councillor, Nick FoggWiltshire and Marlborough town councillor, Nick FoggTwo urgent questions about the spraying of roadside verges with a herbicide claimed to cause potential birth defects have been tabled for tomorrow’s Wiltshire Council meeting by Marlborough councillor Nick Fogg.

His concerns about the use of Roundup, said to be the world’s best–selling weedkiller, have been raised by a report that council workmen have used it on verges in the vicinity of St Mary’s Infant School, in George Lane, Marlborough.

Councillor Fogg is to ask Councillor Dick Tonge, the council’s Cabinet member responsible for highways and transport: “To what extent is the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) used on the roadside verges in the county?”

This follows the fact that Marlborough town council, of which Councillor Fogg is also an elected member, has decided not to allow their own workmen to use Roundup in the town.

And in a second question he asks Councillor Tonge: “Is he aware of the report ‘Roundup and Birth Defects’ produced by a team headed by Michael Antoniou, Reader in molecular genetics at King's College, London, School of Medicine, which expresses concern about the toxic qualities of this chemical and its possible effects as a cause of birth defects?”

Research reports on the toxic effects of Roundup, made by the American company Monsanto, have shown that it does produce birth defects in laboratory animal tests.

“I was put onto this by Dr Sam Page who told me that these sprays had been used around the perimeter of St Mary's Infants School by Wiltshire Council,” Councillor Fogg told Marlborough News Online. “The purpose of my question is to determine the extent of its use by Wiltshire.

“Obviously, if doubts have been cast about its potentially harmful effects, then a thorough examination of the issue should be undertaken.

“ Marlborough town council did precisely this and decided not to use Roundup.  My colleague Councillor Rich Pitts was to the fore on that occasion.”

Used in gardens, farms, and parks around the world, Roundup contains an ingredient that can suffocate human cells in a laboratory, according to research reported by the Scientific American magazine three years ago.

“The new findings intensify a debate about so-called ‘inerts’— the solvents, preservatives, surfactants and other substances that manufacturers add to pesticides,” readers were told. “Nearly 4,000 inert ingredients are approved for use by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency.

“Glyphosate, Roundup’s active ingredient, is the most widely used herbicide in the United States.  About 100 million pounds are applied to U.S. farms and lawns every year”, according to the EPA.

“Until now, most health studies have focused on the safety of glyphosate, rather than the mixture of ingredients found in Roundup.  But in the new study, scientists found that Roundup’s inert ingredients amplified the toxic effect on human cells—even at concentrations much more diluted than those used on farms and lawns.”

The report added: “The research team suspects that Roundup might cause pregnancy problems by interfering with hormone production, possibly leading to abnormal foetal development, low birth weights or miscarriages.

“Monsanto, Roundup’s manufacturer, contends that the methods used in the study don’t reflect realistic conditions and that their product, which has been sold since the 1970s, is safe when used as directed.”

“Hundreds of studies over the past 35 years have addressed the safety of glyphosate.”

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