Glyphosate. To ban or not ban, that is the question being considered by the States of Deliberation in Guernsey next month. Frankly, removing the most widely used herbicide in the world from our streets, fields and gardens could be a great thing for the environment and pollinators in particular. And we firmly support the elimination of all pesticides from our daily lives.
But as with many things, it’s complex. There is clear and strong evidence that Glyphosate kills bees and other insects. There are also significant human health concerns around the world. Several towns, cities and even countries around the world have banned its use in part or completely. And its sale to or use by members of the public is not allowed in Guernsey.
So why not ban it completely and immediately? There are of course consequences.
Pesticide use will continue
We believe that users will look for alternative pesticides to glyphosate whether they are farmers, growers, contractors or consumers. These may have more toxic effects on the environment and might be more difficult to apply, leading to contamination issues. Currently, there is no way of knowing what is brought onto the island and what is used, apart from very toxic and controlled chemicals. The Border Agency has told us they do not have the systems or resources to monitor imports of pesticides.
Farmers are vulnerable
We have seen emergency subsidies paid to farmers in recent months. Although we are in favour of organic farming, converting all of Guernsey’s farms may see either a rise in milk prices or farmers pushed closer to financial instability. We know that E&I are planning to produce a sustainable agriculture plan, and we will be approaching them to ensure that organic and pesticide free options are part of those considerations.
Control of invasive plants currently relies on Glyphosate
While some trials of electrical systems have taken place in the UK results so far are limited and the control of Japanese Knotweed in particular relies on the use of glyphosate. We’d like to see a full exploration of these alternatives, but currently the very limited resources dealing with invasive species do rely on glyphosate.
The alternatives and our work programme
We work with the Environment Committee, HSE, Guernsey Water and Waste and others to reduce pesticide use and promote safe alternatives.
In addition, you will hear us call for
- Tighter restrictions on the use of glyphosate by contractors- we see no need to spray pesticides for cosmetic reasons, especially in domestic settings
- Inclusion of pesticide free options in the SoG sustainable agriculture plan
- Monitoring of pesticide imports at point of entry
- A rapid elimination of all pesticides from all education, health and care settings
- Budget to promote and communicate the alternatives