Roundup: Why it should be banned

Herbalist Vivienne Campbell says Roundup is dangerous and she has set up a petition to have it banned here


I am a qualified herbalist and work all over Ireland teaching classes, doing identification and foraging walks and writing reports for people about the edible and therapeutic plants that grow on their land. An issue that comes up when people want to use wild plants is how to avoid areas that have been sprayed with chemical treatments and just how harmful these chemicals may be. As an herbalist I am concerned about the health of humans, wildlife and the environment and do what I can to encourage people to manage their land organically.

We hear a lot about organic gardening and why it would be healthier to garden this way but not everyone makes the effort to change. Many people are unaware of just how harmful some of the commonly used non-organic treatments really are to the health of humans, animals, insects and the environment. Glyphosate is the main ingredient in many common brands of weed-killer (e.g. Roundup, Moss-out etc.) and many people, councils and organisations use it liberally. It is applied copiously around playgrounds, farm land, woods, parks and domestic gardens. Perhaps the people using it are unaware of the mounting body of evidence about how harmful this substance really is?

roundupIn August this year a report on the evidence for harm caused by glyphosate was published by the WHO (World Health Organisation). It was produced by a working group that included several oncologists (cancer specialists). They recommended that glyphosate should be “classified as probably carcinogenic to humans” and that there is also “limited evidence” that glyphosate is carcinogenic in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Following this report, glyphosates have been classified as a class 2A carcinogen.

This raises serious concerns about a chemical that is so widely used in our environment, the residues of which can be found in many non-organic foods and in water supplies from which they can be absorbed by humans.  (It is possible to test the urine and breast milk to see if and how much glyphosate has been absorbed).

Following the publication of this report the Netherlands, France and Connecticut State USA have now banned the sale of glyphosate, while Brazil and Germany are pushing for a ban too. The International Society of Doctors for the Environment has written an open letter to the EU calling for a ban on the use of glyphosate. Even Dublin City Council recently announced that it would look into alternatives to using this chemical.

There are also medical studies published that appear to link glyphosates to fertility problems and infertility, anti-biotic resistance, digestive problems including coeliac disease and gluten-intolerance and kidney disease, especially in areas with hard water. On top of this scientific studies have been published that show it is potentially harmful to honey bees as well as other wildlife. An alarming pile of reasons to start to look at alternatives to this chemical.

So what can you do instead? Alternatives to using Roundup and other glyphosate weed-killers include strimming weeds, using a flame-weeder (available on-line from Fruit Hill Farm) or good old-fashioned weeding by hand. Organic gardening courses also have further tips for keeping down weeds naturally. Look out for organic gardening courses in your local area, or do a herbal and/or wild food course and then you’ll never think of plants as weeds again! (See Vivienne’s classes and on-line courses here at The Herbal Hub).

I am working with other organisations and individuals in Ireland who would like to ban glyphosates and bring in practical, safer alternatives for individuals and commercial operations.

If you’d like to join us then please email me at and/or you could sign this petition to ban sale of glyphosate from shops in Ireland.


Vivienne Campbell BSc.(Hons) is  a qualified medical herbalist. She has an herbal medicine clinic, teaches herbal medicine classes and takes wild food foraging walks.  She has foraged for television programmes on RTE & TG4.  She teaches an on-line course called Learn with the Seasons, introducing people to how to forage for and use edible and therapeutic herbs. Her website is full of information about using herbs.