This is about the health of our environment and all of us who live in it.
Glyphosate-based weedkillers are used too often, and in too many places they shouldn’t be. This can make people ill and will damage our soils and precious wildlife.
We think glyphosate should be a tool of last resort rather than the first thing we turn to.
World-wide, glyphosate is being phased out and New Zealand is falling behind on this.
We want the government to step in.
Our work on glyphosate
Sign and share our national petition
If you haven’t already signed, this is the quickest and best way to help.
We’d also like you to share the petition with friends and family, or at work, so we can gather as many signatures as possible.
The petition page is here: https://soilandhealth.org.nz/glyphosate
Does your club, business or organisation support this cause?
Campaign with us on social media
Search for local Facebook groups that are already in this space to work with and partner such as Environment Tauranga, No Toxic Sprays for Auckland Streets; NZ Organic Gardening; Permaculture in New Zealand (Joe); Regenerative Agriculture Group(Sara); Holistic Family Living; Northland Toxin Awareness Group
Pleas follow our golden rules for staying safe online
Stay on topic – People will link to other themes, ideas, or political issues. While we understand this, it can undermine our central message. Gently but firmly ask that controversial issues that are likely to be picked up by trolls are discussed in other threads.
Stay Kind – Keep yourself neutral and be aware the campaign is to protect public health – no matter who you are, where you come from, or how you vote.
Support Each Other – Ask other mild-mannered friends to help support your online work to build knowledge about glyphosate’s toxicity, if you feel the conversation getting heated.
Be kind to farmers – Certain interests might try and pretend this campaign is attacking farmers (which has happened before). This campaign is not about removing glyphosate as a basic tool to remove weeds in agriculture. This campaign is concerned with removing glyphosate use from urban areas and removing it as a dry-down desiccant on food and feed crops before harvest. Our campaign is so ‘ordinary’ and ‘non-controversial’ that it harmonises with European Commission recommendations. Basic use of glyphosate in agriculture doesn’t put urban families at risk. However it is evident that rural areas have increased cases of the once rare blood cancers associated with glyphosate, and that farming families are most definitely at risk.
Use credible research – Please refer to the documents provided as part of our campaign or from the Non-Toxic Network. If you have any questions please ask us.
Inform yourself and know your stuff.
Use our reports to understand why our current regulation puts the environment and ourselves at risk.
These reports have been produced to help you, your families, your public health agencies, doctors, elected members and council workers to understand that glyphosate-based herbicides aren’t safe.
Get organised and take local action
Find out what’s happening in your district!
We’ve done an exhaustive check using the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA) to understand what councils are doing across New Zealand.
It’s a wealth of information that local groups can use to plan local campaigns. You can read the results here: NZ Councils – current glyphosate use (Excel spreadsheet)
Why should I organise something locally?
Councils are some of the biggest users of glyphosate and it’s difficult getting them to change habits. Because, like all of us, change is hard. Even when councils say they are changing it is hard to tell whether contractors have been supported and trained to do things differently. We think the public needs to see new methodologies being used.
Our template for individuals and groups to complete and submit to local and regional councils asks that:
- Council commits to a ban of glyphosate-based herbicide use in publicly accessible areas.
- Council prohibits use of glyphosate-based herbicides in drainage channels
- That councils completely transition to chemical free vegetation management policies in urban environments.
Our thinking has been informed by the succesful US-based Non-Toxic Neighbourhoods movement. You can read more about them and get inspired like we did!
Where do I start?
Local partnerships can be powerful – form a non-toxic team! Can you gently and thoughtfully connect with local playgroups, community gardens, cancer groups, or relevant interest groups to build your team?
We have done a lot of thinking about how to create change. You can read this work here.
We have also written a template letter you could adapt and make relevant for your region, and join other people to email your elected members. Also – ensure your item is on the council agenda referencing glyphosate so that it is recorded for posterity (this can inform other individuals and groups that you are also working on this issue).
Check out our template letter for local councils
…. And what else?
Glyphosate is often mixed with other toxic chemicals, including bee harming organosilicon surfactants; metsulfuron methyl, triclopyr and even ground-water pollutant terbuthylazine. (Link to PDF Cawthron report 3241)
- We emphasise that pregnant mothers, babies and children are most at risk.
- We understand that glyphosate is not the only pesticide threat in urban environments. Here are some tips:
Sportsgrounds and golf courses use incredible amounts of pesticides, including herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, to keep their grounds sports-ready. In the USA sports grounds are being affordably converted to synthetic chemical free. In fact, turf managers are finding that with better quality soil producing healthier turf, people can play for longer and that the turf is more resilient under organic management regimes. Sign up to Non-Toxic Neighborhoods for more data in this area.
Prickleweed (Onehunga) sprays are another problem. Like glyphosate applications, they often involve mixtures of toxic chemicals being applied together. The signs left out on a sportsfield or park after the annual prickleweed or broadleaf spray often do not reflect the time the active ingredients take to degrade, and so may still be toxic long after the signage has gone. It can be good to do a LGOIMA request through FYI to understand when and where these sprays are applied, and what different formulant mixtures being used. You can then research the ‘half-life’ – the time half of the different active chemicals in the formulations take to degrade. This can tell you if this reflects the amount of time the signs are left out for. You can also research the level of toxicity (if it is carcinogenic, neurotoxic or an endocrine disruptor). Prickleweed might be a problem for some people. Many mothers keep their childrens shoes on at parks to prevent them standing in dog poo – you might find prickleweed, which has a very short prickly time (and is worse in areas where glyphosate is sprayed or where the grass is kept to short) is not considered a problem and that local people are more concerned with the effects of the toxic spray. From there you can approach elected members and council staff to request that a public forum is held to publicly debate the this practice and whether it is essential for wellbeing.
Bee killing neonicotinoids. Unless contractors ask directly it is likely that grass seeds will be coated with pollinator-damaging neonicotinoids. Unfortunately regulation in New Zealand is weak. Unlike other countries toxic neonicotinoids are not restricted. Even more surprisingly, treated seed bags are often frequently not labelled. Ask that policy be changed to ensure no grass seeds are purchased that contain neonicotinoid seed treatments. In order to effect this, the supplier/producer of the grass seed may need to be contacted to ask if a specific product contains the treatments.
Other Reports and Papers. The evidence on risk to children:
While our Soil and Health Science Paper (PDF) shows how glyphosate is not only probably carcinogenic, but a neurotoxin and an endocrine disruptor – there is a massive amount of evidence that pregnant mothers, babies and children are extra-vulnerable to glyphosate.
New Zealand hasn’t been very good at using the precautionary principle to act in favour of public health, we tend to use it weakly rather than strongly, as Professor Catherine Iorns Magallanes has noted. However the compelling evidence that pregnant women, babies and children are far more at risk of harm from pesticides should be making responsible officials and elected members use the precautionary principle in policy to protect urban families.
The UN rapporteur for toxics says ‘it’s time to put children’s health before pesticides’.
The Auckland Weed Management Advisory 2020 Children’s Campaign
Poisoning Our Future: Children and Pesticides (Book) 2013. Pesticides Action Network Asia Pacific
Pesticide Risks. From our farms to our homes. 2020. Environmental & Human Health Inc.
Children’s Campaign. Pesticides Action Network Asia Pacific
Glyphosate-Based Weed Killers & Your Child’s Health. EEH Centre 2017.
Understanding the Impacts of Pesticide on children: a discussion paper. UNICEF 2018.
Kids on the Frontline Pesticide Action Network North America. How pesticides are undermining the health of rural children. PANNA 2016.
A Generation in Jeopardy: How pesticides are undermining our children’s health & intelligence. PANNA 2012.
Protect Children from Pesticides. Visual Facilitators Guide. FAO 2015.