A report on the the use of the commonly-used herbicide Glyphosate was released by the Government of New Brunswick Friday.
Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell says the review found no increased risk for New Brunswickers exposed to Glyphosate in the province.
According to the report, Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide that’s used to kill plants in industrial, commercial and domestic settings, and is the most widely-used in the world.
Glyphosate use in New Brunswick
Russell says her office wanted to look at usage patterns in New Brunswick and compare them to hot the herbicide is used in other parts of the world. The report concludes that Glyphosate use patterns in New Brunswick are considerably different from other parts of the world. In New Brunswick, 61 per cent of Gylphosate use is in the forestry sector. Industrial use is the next most common use at 27 per cent.
In other parts of the world, 90 per cent of Glyphosate use is for agricultural use, compared to 11 per cent based on 2014 numbers.
“We acknowledge that some uncertainty about glyphosate exists, but based on our review, exposures in New Brunswick are similar to or less than elsewhere,” Russell said.
The report says no additional actions to protect public health in New Brunswick is warranted.
Critics concerned about long-term health affects
A recent classification of the herbicide by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, says Glysophate is ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’. The report acknowledges that, but critics are concerned about the health and well being of people who have been exposed to the herbicide.
Peter Gilbert is part of a group called ‘Stop Spraying New Brunswick’, that’s advocating for change in the province. The group held a protest at the legislature in May and members are collecting signatures for a petition to end the use of Glyphosate in New Brunswick. Since May there have been over 13,000 signatures collected. Gilbert tells Global News the goal is to get 40,000 – which would be 5 per cent of the population, at which point they say they would demand a public review.
READ MORE: Petition demands New Brunswick stop using herbicide glyphosate
“It’s toothless, it’s gutless, it didn’t say anything. It was just a revie w- a lot of information that we already knew before, that’s already public. It didn’t come to any conclusions. There was no recommendations based on the review it more or less was just a summary of what we already knew,” Gilbert said.
He says that with all the uncertainty surround the long-term health risks, the group would like to see if the application of the precautionary principle and have the government hold-off use of Glyphosate until more information is available in 2017 when regulatory agencies worldwide give their final positions on classification.
Gilbert says the group will continue with public outreach and signature collection- including a presentation in Doaktown, N.B. on August 10, 2016.