Minister: Importation Of “Roundup” Suspended

May 11, 2015

“Following a recent scientific study carried out by a leading cancer agency, the importation of weed spray ‘Roundup’ has been suspended,” Minister of Health, Seniors and Environment Jeanne Atherden said today [May 11].

The Minister said, “The Ministry of Health, Seniors and Environment is committed to promoting safe practices as part of our stewardship of Bermuda’s delicate environment.

“Technical officers stay abreast of trends and scientific developments to ensure that our regulation of all aspects of how we influence the environment around us remains safe and in keeping with best practice.

“Following a recent scientific study carried out by a leading cancer agency, the importation of weed spray “Roundup” has been suspended.

“The International Agency for Research on Cancer [IARC], the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization [WHO], recently asked a group of experts from around the world to spend a year examining the data from peer-reviewed studies about Glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in Roundup.

“As a result of this research, the [IARC] reported that it had assessed the cancer causing risk to humans of five pesticides includingglyphosate.”

Minister Atherden added, “I believe that the action we are taking today is prudent and in the best interests of a safe environment for Bermuda. Like any area of science, there are competing studies and a wealth of information on both sides of the argument.

“Having considered the clear and cogent advice of the Ministry’s technical team, I am satisfied that this action is warranted and we are committed to conducting an open and thorough assessment.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

The Ministry of Health, Seniors and Environment is committed to promoting safe practices as part of our stewardship of Bermuda’s delicate environment. Technical officers stay abreast of trends and scientific developments to ensure that our regulation of all aspects of how we influence the environment around us remains safe and in keeping with best practice.

Following a recent scientific study carried out by a leading cancer agency, the importation of weed spray “Roundup” has been suspended.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer [IARC], the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization [WHO], recently asked a group of experts from around the world to spend a year examining the data from peer-reviewed studies about Glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in Roundup.

As a result of this research, the [IARC] reported that it had assessed the cancer causing risk to humans of five pesticides includingglyphosate.

According to the assessment, the herbicide glyphosate along with two other insecticides were classified as probably carcinogenic to humans. This description is used when there is limited evidence of cancer causing effect on humans and sufficient evidence of it in experimental animals.

Limited evidence means that a positive association has been observed between exposure to the agent and cancer but that other explanations for the observations could not be ruled out. This category is also used when there is limited evidence of cancer causing in humans and strong data on how the agent causes cancer.

Currently, only two of the recently analyzed substances are permitted for importation and use in Bermuda. The remaining three that were reviewed as part of the research are already banned and their use is prohibited.

In light of the recent IARC study,Bermuda will take the following steps:

1. Effective immediately, all importers of glyphosate/Roundup will be notified that the approval for all glyphosate products has been suspended, pending the continuing assessment of the emerging research. Our hope is to complete the assessment within six months. However, orders placed for glyphosate will be honoured, with proof that the order had been placed prior to today, May 11th, 2015. Whilst the restrictions will take effect immediately; there will be a grace period of 14 days from today for current importers of Roundup during which they can make application at the Department of Environmental Protection to import small quantities of low concentrations of Roundup.

2. No further applications for the importation of glyphosate will be processed during this evaluation period.

3. I have asked the Department of Environmental Protection to convene a meeting with stakeholders including:

  • a. the industry [farmers, landscapers, golf-courses, merchants];
  • b. The Bermuda Health Department who are responsible for human health;
  • c. The Department of Environmental Protection’s regulatory personnel;
  • d. The Department of Conservation Services;
  • e. The Department of Works and Engineering,who conduct roadside spraying, and
  • f. The Department of Parks

4. I have also asked the Toxicologist at the Health Department to collaborate with the Government Hydro-geologist and jointly conduct research to determine if any of the break-down products of glyphosate are present in the ground water and inshore waters. A report of findings will be prepared.

5. Once this important research and assessment is completed, the Government’s final determination regarding Roundup [glyphosate] will be made clear for the public.

It is important to note that a similar assessment will be conducted for other pesticides of concern.

The Department of Works and Engineering can be contacted for the proper disposal of pesticides should any members of the public have a container of Roundup which they no longer wish to use.

For more information regarding alternative herbicides, the public can contact the Plant Protection Laboratory at the Department of Environmental Protection at 239-2321.They have a database that lists all of the pesticides imported into Bermuda, as well as where they can be purchased.

On a related front, I am also pleased to advise the public today that I have invited my Cabinet colleagues to support the long overdue development of regulations needed to properly regulate pesticides in Bermuda. The Pesticides Safety Act 2009 was passed by the Legislature but to date; the required Regulations have not been addressed. This important feature of safety and proper enforcement will be introduced to complete the work contemplated by the substantive Act.

I believe that the action we are taking today is prudent and in the best interests of a safe environment for Bermuda. Like any area of science, there are competing studies and a wealth of information on both sides of the argument. Having considered the clear and cogent advice of the Ministry’s technical team, I am satisfied that this action is warranted and we are committed to conducting an open and thorough assessment.

Thank you.

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Comments (36)

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  1. aNDy says:

    Good step. However my observation is that Bermuda is never a leader in these areas. Unfortunately we seem to need another country to make this step even though the research might have been out for years. That said. I do not want to detract from the benefit of this policy.
    Please consider also:
    banning microbeads (see website)
    revisit/extend the blue halo initiative (I am in no way affiliated with this organization)

  2. Jus' sayin' says:

    Isn’t that the stuff they have been using to spray the sides of the road from a truck for years that turns everything brown (for a couple of weeks anyway)?

  3. Why is it that most things of, “extreme importance” take so damn long before they’re dealt with? e.g. “The Pesticides Safety Act 2009 was passed by the Legislature but to date; the required Regulations have not been addressed. This important feature of safety and proper enforcement will be introduced to complete the work contemplated by the substantive Act.”

  4. Greenrock says:

    Well done Minister Atherden.

    Kudos to all the Bermuda residents who have voiced this suggestion, model organic sustainable practices and encouraged this policy decision. Every step in this direction helps.

    Where are we on Blue Halo?

  5. Frank says:

    A long time coming! Why has it taken this long?!

    You forgot to mention the mutations and others destruction that Roundup and other pesticides like it have been causing to our natural environment!

  6. On Behalf of the Toads says:

    This is fantastic news! We should have done this years ago. Where have all the “road toads” and crabs gone? I see the trucks driving along spraying the road side – this can’t be healthy for the drivers either. Bermuda is small enough to really be able to look after it’s environment unlike other larger countries. I hope more actions like this will follow. We need to protect our precious Island.

    • Um Um Like says:

      The toads are still around. The crabs have been eaten by the blue herons.

  7. sage says:

    Excellent move.

  8. I and I says:

    Strong salt water,soap and horticultural grade vinegar works just as good

  9. San George says:

    What happens to all that duty I paid on my Round-up?

    Quo Fata Ferunt

    • Frank says:

      Its being used to treat all the cancer it has being causing our small Island’s population since they started using it! Good enough use of it?

  10. Young Bermudian says:

    This is wonderful news. Is there a place where the public can see legislation that has been passed but regulations haven’t been developed or enacted.

    Thank you.

  11. Sickofantz says:

    What strange behaviour! Why doesn’t Mrs Jeanne Atherden Ban Alcohol whICH IS A proven NOT A PROBABLE carcinogen!

    • Frank says:

      Ahh yes what a clever analogy! One you have direct personal control over ( your choice to consume) and the other you don’t (the Govt. and others have been spraying Roundup throughout the Island for years) so what’s your point……………………..?

      Roundup and other insecticides like it have been proven to be linked directly to all sorts of health issues in humans, animals and the environment alike!

    • bhallett says:

      Alcohol consumption is a choice of the person consuming it. The same does not hold true for Roundup.

    • Zevon says:

      Well, in that case we should ban sitting out in the sun.

  12. Tony Brannon says:

    THIS IS A START in the right direction …..

  13. Smiths says:

    What else will kill the highly invasive asparagus fern? Roundup does the trick every time.

    What else will kill the highly toxic poison ivy? Roundup does the trick every time.

    What is the alternative herbicide for invasive plants and weeds?

    Guess I better get to the shop to stock up on my roundup!

    • bhallett says:

      If you read the Minister’s Statement, you will see:- “For more information regarding alternative herbicides, the public can contact the Plant Protection Laboratory at the Department of Environmental Protection at 239-2321.They have a database that lists all of the pesticides imported into Bermuda, as well as where they can be purchased.”

  14. Awake says:

    The banning of the use of Round Up is probably a good idea, but has any research been done about the fumes from our vehicles possibly having a negative impact on our environment? Surely Round Up alone isn’t the blame for everything now, is it? All those against the use of Round Up should immediately take to driving electric vehicles or start pedal cycling!

  15. michael says:

    I’m sad to find out that it has been in use here in Bermuda, but VERY GLAD to hear that they are suspending it, hopefully forever! Many countries around the world are banning this horrible chemical, so I’m glad that Bermuda is doing the right thing!

  16. Shell says:

    What about Baygon? It’s been around my whole life.

    • Bdadiva says:

      Baygon is banned in much of the world…..

      • Varied says:

        The formula for Baygon was changed a few years ago, that’s likely why it’s still allowed here and other places

  17. “Bie’-gone” is some serious crap, it also needs to be banned!

  18. Do the Study says:

    I have a question what university study supports this. Also what scientific journals also supports this these are the questions that need to be answered.

  19. cottereaux says:

    So when will tobacco products be banned? Someone dropped the ball on those cancer causing products. Must be a different government department…

  20. Pastor Syl says:

    Thank you, Min. Atherden! So glad that this step has been finally taken. Well done!

  21. Knee jerk says:

    Glyphosate is the safest chemical we have to suppress noxious, invasive weeds. It becomes inert upon contact with soil. The World Health Organization clearly has an agenda here. Understand that no new research was done. Old studies were read by hand picked “peers” and they concluded what the WHO wanted them to. All pesticides are not “bad”, fashionable though it is to proclaim so.

    • Lizbeth says:

      Knee jerk. Glyphosate is the safest chemical we have to suppress weeds? Really? Show us the facts. The facts by independent authorities show that Glyphosate ties up certain micro-nutrients in the soil rendering them unavailable to plants and therefore not available for our health. Roundup-ready plants have also been shown to be linked not just to cancer but also autism and other health issues that may not at this time have sufficient scientific proof. Why wait for millions of people to become permanently ill when it can be prevented with a different mindset? Good for you Minister Atherton. Few are caring enough and courageous enough to go against big business interests.

  22. Kim Smith says:

    I am very pleased about the suspension of the use of Round-up (and, Rodeo too I hope given it also has glyphosates) and glad that the announcement seems to have triggered us to consider just some of the other environmental threats that we live with every day. I think it was Oprah who said that “you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge”. I think things are finally starting to change.

  23. You really should round up all DAT damn round up…yeehaa!…giddyup deah hosseh!…we gotteh gets awllah DAT death roundemup!

  24. Varied says:

    This is weird:

    “Whilst the restrictions will take effect immediately; there will be a grace period of 14 days from today for current importers of Roundup during which they can make application at the Department of Environmental Protection to import small quantities of low concentrations of Roundup.”

    So the Ministry has determined that this is harmful, yet they’re allowing people to appeal to allow it into the island anyway?

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