By Ali Nobil Ahmad
Fears that a “toxic” herbicide will be used to clear land in Brockley have provoked concern from leaseholders and an investigation by the council.
The product, “Roundup“, is a weed-killer that will be used by the company Regenter to clear overgrown gardens on Breakspears Road in the New Year. It contains Glyphosate – a substance officially classified as safe for humans, but linked by some studies to cancer and miscarriages. It is classified as toxic for aquatic wildlife by the European Union.
Richard Carey, 38, who made the complaint to Green councilor Darren Johnson with two of his neighbours last week, is furious that he was not consulted by Pinnacle, the company involved.
He told The Platform: “I’m outraged. They talk about doing things for the sake of the environment. Then, without consulting us, they say they’re going to douse a plot of land near where I live with poison.”
Pinnacle, a member of the Regenter consortium managing the Brockley PFI Decent Homes programme, claims the land is communal. But Carey showed The Platform letters from the council suggesting that the land is made up of “individual gardens for flats” belonging to leaseholders. He wants to use his share to grow vegetables, and is unconvinced that Roundup is harmless. “I don’t think it’s safe,” he said, adding: “One report in Canada linked it to fœtal abnormalities and miscarriages. The company that makes it, Monsanto, created Agent Orange and filled a quarry in Wales with chemical waste.”
Environmental organisations such as the Organic Consumers’ Ecology Centre say Roundup is toxic and harmful to humans, and organisms that maintain soil balance. In 1999, the Journal of the American Cancer Society linked it to Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – a form of cancer, and recent studies on mammals show abnormalities in fœtuses and pregnant rats, and testosterone production in mice.
Last year, Monsanto was convicted of false advertising for presenting Roundup as biodegradable, and claiming that it leaves soil clean after use. On two occasions, the United States protection agency has caught scientists deliberately falsifying test results at research laboratories hired by Monsanto to study glyphosate.
Cllr Johnson confirmed he has raised the issue with council officers on behalf of leaseholders and is awaiting a response. “I’d be very, very concerned if dangerous chemicals are being used – especially if people are intending to grow food,” he said. “There are a lot of derelict estates that could be used as allotments, we should be encouraging that.”
Regenter could not be reached for comment.