Govt should follow EU and ban toxic herbicide ingredient

The Green Party is calling on the Government to ban the toxic ingredient POEA, after answers to written questions to the Minister for the Environment revealed it is an undisclosed ingredient in almost 90 products sold in New Zealand.

The European Union (EU) Commission has recommended that EU member states ban the use of Polyoxyethylene tallow amine (POEA), a common ingredient in herbicides like Roundup, which researchers expect could cause cell damage and death, and may cause pregnancy problems including abnormal foetal development, low birth weights or miscarriages at residual levels found on some treated crops, lawns and gardens.

In answers to written questions, Dr Nick Smith said that POEA is contained in 69 glyphosate-based herbicides and 18 other formulations with different active ingredients, but refused to disclose the names of those products.

“The Government should immediately ban this toxic ingredient which has the potential to damage human cells and create problems during pregnancy,” said Green Party pesticides spokesperson Steffan Browning.

"The Government has refused to name which products contain this dangerous ingredient, claiming this information is commercially sensitive.

"The EU Commission looked at the science and decided POEA is too dangerous to be on the market. I would like to know why the Government thinks it's not even worth telling New Zealanders that this dangerous ingredient is in nearly 90 products on the market.

"The Green Party has been campaigning to stop glyphosate-based herbicides, many of which include POEA, being used in streets, parks and playgrounds.

"We have identified several safe, and cost-effective alternatives for councils and contractors to use in weed management, such as hot water or foam, steam and mechanical methods.

"The Green Party is calling on the Government to do a full public reassessment of the safety of glyphosate-based herbicides, using published and independent science, rather than its recent narrow review using very selective science and analysis," said Mr Browning.

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