Weedkiller’s use defended

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, May 18, 2019 - Page 2

A weedkiller at the center of a lawsuit in the US is used in Taiwan, but is barred from use outside of farms, Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Deputy Director-General Chou Hui-chuan (鄒慧娟) said on Tuesday.

Glyphosate was used extensively in Taiwan last year, with 1,337 tonnes applied, Chou said.

A jury in California on Monday returned a verdict awarding US$2 billion in damages to a couple who alleged that Bayer AG’s glyphosate-based Roundup caused their cancer. It was the largest US jury verdict against the German chemical giant in litigation over glyphosate.

Chou said that, in the litigation against Bayer, the weedkiller was not used on farmland, but on campuses and residential areas.

Citing the Agro-pesticides Management Act (農藥管理法), Chou said that only agricultural pesticides are allowed for farm use.

All licensed agro-pesticides have undergone strict toxicology assessments, she said.

“As long as they are used in accordance with the guidelines and on the correct scale, they pose no safety concerns,” she said.

The US Environmental Protection Agency classifies glysophate as an “E”-level carcinogen, meaning that there is no evidence that its use causes cancer in humans, Chou said.

Her remarks came in the wake of a Chinese-language news report citing bureau Director-General Feng Hai-tung (馮海東) as saying that the agency would not ban the chemical from use on farmland, but urged farmers to apply it legally and to use proper protective clothing and equipment.

The bureau hopes that farmers will gradually reduce the use of glyphosate, Feng said.

While the California jury found that the producer of Roundup failed to warn of the risks of using the herbicide, Chou said there are already regulations in Taiwan that agricultural pesticides must be labeled as hazardous and carry instructions for precautionary measures.