Despite the World Health Organisation’s claims that glyphosate is ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ the City of Rockingham has no immediate plans to stop using the chemical as a weed control method. The City has a range of approaches to target weeds and specifically uses glyphosate, more commonly known as Roundup, to treat kerb lines, hardstand areas, footpaths, firebreaks, fence lines and spot spraying of weeds in landscaped gardens. Mayor Deb Hamblin said the City continued to use the non-selective herbicide after the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority reviewed the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer report in 2016 and concluded that glyphosate did not pose a carcinogenic risk to humans. “The City continues to examine opportunities to lessen the reliance on chemical-based control products. However, at present, it is not considered practical, cost-effective or sustainable to carry out the City’s weed management program without the use of glyphosate-based products,” Ms Hamblin said. The use of glyphosate has been hotly contested since Monsanto, the company behind Roundup, was forced to pay $289.2 million to a former American groundskeeper diagnosed with terminal non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In 2018, Monsanto paid compensation and punitive damages after a San Francisco jury found unanimously that the weed killer caused Dewayne Johnson to develop NHL, and that Monsanto failed to warn of this severe health hazard. Two years later in 2020, the City of Joondalup decided to stop using glyphosate within play spaces in its parks and reserves. Ms Hamblin said the City of Rockingham trialled using steam as an alternative to glyphosate in 2018 but the results showed it was less effective in killing weeds. “A trial undertaken by the City at Lake Richmond showed the ‘kill efficiency’ of steam to be significantly less effective than glyphosate and would have required follow-up treatments to achieve an acceptable result,” she said. “Adopting steam as a City-wide approach to weed management would not be practical, cost-effective or sustainable.” The City is a member of WALGA’s Local Government Herbicide Use and Integrated Weed Management Working Group which focuses on co-ordinating trials of different weed control methods, gathering information on existing trials and analysing the cost and effectiveness of these alternatives. “A holistic approach to weed management is taken by the City and treatments are based on the needs of each individual site. These methods include mechanical control, manual control, turf management practices, landscape management practices and chemical control,” she said. “Given the extent of weed management required across the City, chemical-based products are essential to weed management control so that public open space and road reserves can be maintained to a service level expected by the community.” At the annual electors meeting in December, a resolution was made to trial steam as an alternative to glyphosate for a second time. City officers recommended the council to not support the resolution and the motion was carried unanimously.