Alternatives to the controversial Glyphosate weed killer are to be trialled next year by Reading Borough Council (RBC) amid calls to ban the potentially dangerous substance.

More than 800 people in Reading have signed a petition calling for the council to stop using the weed killer.

Commonly known as ‘Roundup’, Glyphosate is used to kill weeds but there are serious concerns about its potential harmful effects on human health, particularly its potential as a carcinogen.

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This has led several councils to stop using in favour of alternative methods of weed control, while RBC has reduced its use in recent years.

RBC councillors will decide next week how to move forward with its Glyphosate policy, with a report released ahead of the Housing, Neighbourhoods and Leisure committee meeting on Wednesday, July 7 recommending trialling alternatives next year.

Officers are recommending that the council continue to use Glyphosate but minimise its use where it can find acceptable substitutes.

Alternative methods of weed control would be trialled in the 2022 growing season with a view to reducing Glyphosate use.

The trial would include:

• Hot water and steam and manual removal

• Manual removal only

• Acetic acid spray

• Fatty acid spray

• Foamstream

A report on the results of the trial would be brought back to the committee in November 2022 with a set of recommended actions.

Croydon, Lewes, Trafford, Glastonbury, Vale of Glamorgan, Wadebridge and Hammersmith and Chelsea have all banned the use of Glyphosate in public areas.

Others, including Lewisham, Hampshire, Bristol and Wirral, are trialling alternatives.

All alternatives would be more expensive than Glyphosate (which costs around £60,000 a year), according to RBC.

It estimates thermal treatment would cost around £90,000-180,000 a year and manual treatment around £260,000 a year.

The could also wants to trial offering the opportunity for communities to opt-out from Glyphosate being used in their area, taking inspiration from Manchester.

In Manchester, streets or areas can opt-out of the Glyphosate regime but must control weeds themselves.

Is Glyphosate dangerous?

There are opposing camps in relation to the safe use of Glyphosate: those who see it as a cheap effective and readily available herbicide essential to grounds maintenance services and global agriculture and those who see it as a dangerous, carcinogenic substance that should be banned.

Recent United States court rulings against Monsanto, the manufacturer of the world’s leading Glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup has led to the awarding of millions of dollars of compensation to plaintiffs who claim to have contracted cancer as a result of prolonged use of Glyphosate based products.

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There are a further 18,400 lawsuits proceeding through the US courts and this has led many users to reconsider the safety of Glyphosate and the possibility of court cases against them.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned the week killer is ‘probably a human carcinogen’.