The Soil Association has urged farmers to stop using the chemical glyphosate after an American farmer successfully sued Monsanto, the company that produces Roundup for £227m.
Dewayne Johnson, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma after regularly using Roundup won the battle with Monsanto who a California judge claimed acted with “malice” and said that the company’s products “substantially” caused Johnson’s cancer.
The lawsuit was the first linking glyphosate to cancer to go to trial, despite the World Health Organisation (WHO) stating in 2015 that the chemical was a possible carcinogen.
Johnson’s case dealt a “dramatic blow” to the use of glyphosate according to the Soil Association who are urging farmers to use alternatives.
Emma Hockridge, head of policy at the Soil Association, said: “It confirms that it is sensible for UK farmers to be thinking about how they will manage without glyphosate, as organic farmers already do. We need to urgently change our systems of weed control to stop relying on herbicides.
“It was disturbing in this case to hear that Monsanto had knowledge of the potentially harmful effects, but the court case also really highlights the problem with relying on chemical pesticides globally as so little is known about the long-term environmental and health impacts.
“A lot more should be done to help all farmers improve these practical alternatives they’ve pioneered, which pose less risk to our soils, environment, and health. We continue to call for a stop to spraying this chemical on crops at harvest time and to its use in parks and gardens, and for a thorough rethink of pesticide regulations.”
Despite the ruling Monsanto claims the product is “safe for use and does not cause cancer when used according to the label” and says its claims are based on “the strength of the science”.