Taiwan discourages use of herbicide ‘Roundup’ involved in cancer of US groundskeeper

The government of Taiwan will look into the case and assess the health hazard of the weedkiller

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Bottles of Roundup herbicide, a product of Monsanto (AP)

Bottles of Roundup herbicide, a product of Monsanto (AP)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – In response to the verdict where a former U.S. school groundskeeper was awarded US$289 million in a lawsuit accusing Monsanto’s “Roundup” weedkiller of contributing to his terminal cancer, the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ, 農委會防檢局) noted the use of the herbicide is discouraged but not banned in Taiwan, reports said Saturday.

The top three most commonly used selective herbicides in Taiwan are Roundup (年年春), Glufosinate (固沙草), and Paraquat (巴拉刈), Director General Feng Hai-tung (馮海東) of BAPHIQ was quoted by UDN as saying.

Paraquat has been prohibited since February 2017 and Glufosinate has been promoted as an alternative with an increase in global supply that helps bring down prices, Feng said, adding that the government has yet to impose restrictions on the use of Roundup, but only suggested limited use of the weedkiller.

Stressing that Roundup is used for killing weeds and not on fruits nor vegetables, and that the amount of chemical substances to which one is exposed differs between groundskeepers and consumers, Feng assured the public that food safety should not be a concern. Further assessment will be conducted by the government, he added.  

Professor Kuo Hua-jen (郭華仁) of National Taiwan University’s Department of Agronomy pointed out that France is joining a number of advanced countries to ban the use of herbicides due to toxicity concerns. Roundup (Glyphosate), which takes up more than 50 percent of global use of weedkillers, was officially listed by WHO in 2015 as a cause of cancer, Kuo said.

DeWayne Johnson, 46, filed a lawsuit against agribusiness giant Monsanto for failing to provide a warning on the health hazard of the product Roundup and thus leading to his diagnosis of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Monsanto has said the company will appeal the verdict, The Associated Press reported.

Plaintiff DeWayne Johnson looks up during a brief break as the Monsanto trial in San Francisco (AP)