"Stop spraying poisonous weedkiller on streets of Sheffield" - what a petition signed by thousands is calling for this week

Sheffield Council will be asked to stop using a ‘poisonous’ and ‘dangerous’ weedkiller in the city this week.

By Angela Furniss
Monday, 5th July 2021, 12:42 pm
Extinction Rebellion supporters say no to Glyphosate. Picture taken before the pandemic
Extinction Rebellion supporters say no to Glyphosate. Picture taken before the pandemic

On Wednesday July 7 Graham Wroe will present the petition “Sheffield City Council, stop using Glyphosate” to the full council meeting at Pond’s Forge. The petition currently has 6,384 signatures, which means the council will need to debate it.

At 1pm there will be a rally outside Pond’s Forge, with street theatre from Act Now and speeches.

Organisers say this is the first big test for the authority after the council declared a nature emergency at the last council meeting.

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Unsightly dead grass following glyphosate spraying.

Graham Wroe, who started the petition, said: “In Sheffield we spray ridiculous amounts of poisonous glyphosate on our streets, parks and playgrounds every year.

“It is unnecessary, unsightly (leaving dead vegetation at the side of verges and walls) and dangerous, not just to insects and birds but to humans and pets too.

"There are plenty of safe alternatives, from letting the wild-flowers grow, hand weeding, mechanical weeding and spraying hot foam or acetic acid. Amey workers continue to spray glyphosate without full protective clothing, despite evidence that it causes cancer.

"I fear for the safety of these workers, and for the council finances that may face massive legal bills in the future if workers successfully claim compensation.”

A ban Gglyphosate banner outside the town hall

Green Party Councillor Alison Teal is now on the council’s Cooperative Executive leadership with a portfolio that includes parks.

She said: “The agrochemical market was worth $234.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2019. This is the reason why a probable carcinogen continues to threaten biodiversity and human health, it is a very lucrative product.

"The National Officer of the GMB, Dan Shears, said in 2018 that employers should stop using glyphosates immediately because of the risks of exposure, and he invoked the Precautionary Principle, "In situations like this, surely it is better to be safe not sorry?"

"We agree, which is why we are urging officers in Sheffield City Council to make a swift decision on alternatives which they are already trialling. Over 25 countries have already banned it. Sheffield must do the same."