Earlier this year the company behind Roundup agreed to shell out nearly $16 billion to settle lawsuits alleging the weedkiller caused cancers, but the glyphosate-containing herbicide is still considered safe for sale in Australia.
Now, consumer advocates are ramping up the campaign to have Roundup stripped from the nation’s store shelves with a satirical ad aimed at hardware behemoth Bunnings.
Consumer watchdog group SumOfUs this week released the spoof video titled ‘Toxic Roundup STILL on sale at Bunnings’.
The ad is a take on the hardware giants’ famous television ads featuring their green apron-clad staff.
“Countries are banning it. Other stores are pulling it from sale. But Australia’s largest hardware chain still packs its shelves with the toxic weed killer, Roundup,” the video discreption reads.
SumOfUs urges consumers to “tell Bunnings Warehouse to put safety before profits and pull Roundup off its shelves now” by signing a petition titled ‘Bunnings: drop Roundup now‘.
“It’s been the focus of bans in Germany, France, Vietnam, and Belgium. And subject to billions of dollars in lawsuits from cancer victims across the world. But you can still buy hundreds of bottles of Roundup at your local Bunnings Warehouse,” the petition says.
“Earlier this year Roundup’s maker, Bayer-Monsanto, announced payouts of $15.9 billion to settle lawsuits from customers who had developed non-hodgkin’s lymphoma from the weedkiller. Yet rather than act, Bunnings continues to stock shelf-fulls of the product.”
SumOfUs points out that Britain’s largest home hardware chain B&Q “voluntarily removed all glyphosate-based products earlier this year, following a similar move by Costco in the US and Australia”.
“It’s time for Bunnings to do the same,” the group says.
As of Thursday the petition had nearly 30,000 signatures.
A similar petition launched change.org in 2018 by NSW woman Zara D’Cotta that calls for Bunnings to “please take Roundup off your shelves” has more than 52,000 signatures.
“I couldn’t help but feel incredibly sad when I went to my local Bunnings store and saw Roundup lining the shelves, with no warning labels, and no way for customers to know just how dangerous this product is,” Ms D’Cotta wrote.
Bunnings director of merchandising Phil Bishop told The New Daily the firm understands “there are a range of views on this subject and we always respect community feedback”.
“We are actively looking for new and effective options for our customers who prefer non-glyphosate products and we are proactively meeting with manufacturers in this area,” Mr Bishop said.
“We stock a range of alternatives including naturally-derived products such as Nature’s Way Organic Weed Spray, Beat-A-Weed Natural Weed Killer and Slasher Organic Weedkiller amongst others.”
Mr Bishop said Bunnings is “closely monitoring the global discussion on glyphosate and we’re continually working with our team, the [Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority] and our suppliers to help customers make an informed decision as to what option is right for them”.
Roundup class actions continue
The toxicity of Roundup, particularly its active ingredient – glyphosate – continues to be debated, with some authorities saying it’s safe and others labelling it as carcinogenic to humans.
Earlier this year, Roundup’s owner Bayer-Monsanto agreed to payout $15.9 billion to settle lawsuits involving Roundup in the United States.
In 2018, dying man Dewayne Johnson was awarded $395 million in damages after a US jury ruled Monsanto and its household weedkiller were to blame for his cancer.
In Australia, two class actions against Roundup are underway, the first of which was spearheaded by a Melbourne gardener who has claimed his 2011 non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis was a result of the product.
Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world, with more than six billion kilograms applied over the past decade.
Bunnings spruiks Roundup
On its website, Bunnings offers 21 Roundup products for sale, and spruiks the company as the “the world’s No.1 weedkiller brand”.
“With over 30 years of experience, Roundup specialises in weed control so you can get back to enjoying your great outdoors again,” Bunnings’ website says.
To find out that the product contains glyphosate, online shoppers must click on a dropdown menu ‘Guides & Documents’ and then open a PDF titled ‘Safety.’
The document states that the product is “not classified as hazardous” and “not classified as dangerous goods”.
“People expect to receive the highest standards of customer care when they shop at Bunnings. They don’t expect to be sold a chemical that’s being banned across the world, is the subject of billions of dollars in lawsuits and has been pulled off the shelves in stores overseas,” SumOfUs campaign manager Nick Haines said.
“The writing is on the wall for RoundUp. The question is will Bunnings lead and show they put safety over profits or will they be the last one holding the carcinogen?”