Municipalities working on their own Roundup pesticide bans
A growing number of municipalities in the east of the Netherlands are considering banning the use of controversial weed killer glyphosate, best known under the brand name Roundup, on the agricultural land that they own and lease to farmers, according to a survey by De Stentor, Tubantia and De Gelerlander.
A small number of municipalities already banned the use of glyphosate on their land with a special provision on their lease contracts with farmers. These include Olst-Wijhe, Doetingchem and Enschede. Many more are considering adding such a provision to their lease contracts at the start of next year. These include Ede, Almelo, Arnhem, Zutphen, Cuijk, Grave, Oude IJsselstreek, and Mill en Sint Hubert.
Glyphosate is a controversial weed killer due to concerns that it may contaminate drinking water and may be carcinogenic. Fields on which glyphosate was used can be recognized by their yellow-orange color, as the weed killer kills all greenery.
Earlier this year, the Central Ground Chamber in Zwolle, which handles appeals on lease contracts on behalf of the government, ruled that municipalities may ban glyphosate in their short-term lease contracts. Until then, the legality of doing so was unclear.
Farmers organization LTO is unhappy with this development. According to Pieter Evenhuis of LTO Noord, "emotion predominates over facts" when it comes to glyphosate. "Glyphosate is authorized as a pesticide in Europe, there is still no conclusive evidence that it is carcinogenic. In our view, the authorization of such things should continue to be based on the assessment of independent institutes such as the European Food Safety Authority, and not on the assessment of local politics. Then emotion plays too much of a role," he said to De Gelderlander.
According to Evenhuis, these emotions are partly fueled by the fact that plots turn yellow or orange due to the use of glyphosate. "That doesn't look healthy at first sight, that's true. But these are fields with green manures, plants that themselves serve as fertilizers for the next food production. These green fertilizers prevent, for example, the leaching of nutrients to the surface water and promote soil quality. The alterative is mechanical removal, which does not always work and is often much less durable."