Waitrose drops Roundup

The organisers of a campaign against the weedkiller Roundup say they have forced Waitrose to stop selling the glyphosate-based product - but the Crop Protection Association said the decision was "rash"

A Care2 petition  signed by 90,000 people said: "On visiting my local Waitrose, I was shocked to see that they were selling Monsanto's Roundup weed killer."

The petition site states: "Great news just in from Waitrose Customer Services: 'I'm pleased to confirm that the last time we sold Roundup was in January this year. We're committed to protecting our pollinators and after careful consideration decided to remove this product from our business. For some more information on our commitment to protecting our bee population, please visit waitrose.com/bees.'

"Well done to you for putting pressure on Waitrose and well done to Waitrose for putting bees first."

Waitrose told HW: "We don't sell Roundup", later adding: "Having looked into it we took a business decision to no longer sell Roundup weedkiller and there's no more to say on it."

A Monsanto representative said: "I had heard that they planned this," and promised further comment.

Waitrose's website says Roundup products listed are "currently unavailable for ordering". The supermarket launched its gardening offered with Alan Titchmarsh as ambassador in 2013. Glyphosate has been linked with cancer by some studies and is awaiting European re-registration.

In the UK, only W6 and N1 garden centres had dropped the product after pressure groups stepped up campaigns against it last year, claiming it was carcinogenic.

Waitrose still sells Bug Clear, Weedol and SlugClear products in garden 'pods' outside its shops. Two organic Neudorff weedkillers and one Deadfast weedkiller is listed as available on Waitrose's website, but no other glyphosate products.

Crop Protection Association chief executive officer Nick von Westenholz said: "We’re disappointed Waitrose have taken this decision, which goes against the scientific opinion of expert regulators across the world. Numerous assessments conducted by public authorities over the past 40 years have consistently concluded that responsible use of glyphosate does not pose any unacceptable risk to human health or wildlife.
"Waitrose appear to have taken a rather rash decision following a misinformed public campaign, and the reasons they give for removing these products don’t stand up to scientific scrutiny. Glyphosate based products are available for sale only because they have been through a hugely rigorous safety assessment, as with many products on shop shelves. Moreover, many products pose a higher risk to human health, for instance alcohol or certain unhealthy foods, but we trust the public to consume and use them responsibly and to manage the risks appropriately without removing them from sale.
"Human health and responsible use of garden care chemicals is and must always be our highest priority. As an industry we take pride in the detailed submissions we provide to regulators and the extreme rigor with which our products are assessed. Retailers can have confidence that these expert assessments mean products available for sale are safe for use."
The Soil Association has been campaigning on glyphosate in bread and said Waitrose almost certainly would be in non-organic bread sold at the supermarket.

Global sales of glyphosate were about $7.8 billion in 2014, 30 pe rcent of the herbicide market, according to Cropnosis, a market-research firm.

HW has asked Waitrose and Monsanto for further comment.

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