Protesters kicked out of transport meeting

  • 25/08/2015
Protesters kicked out of transport meeting

By Julia Hollingsworth

Two angry protesters have been kicked out of an Auckland Transport Board meeting after an emotional outburst over a common weed spray.

About 20 members of the public showed up to the meeting today to express concern over the continued use of glyphosate - the main ingredient of Roundup - to control roadside weeds after the World Health Organisation found it was probably carcinogenic to humans.

Dressed in a full hazmat suit and a gas mask, Ban Glyphosate in Auckland's Georgina Blackmore presented a petition of over 2000 signatures asking the board to stop using the herbicide.

"We've talked about cost, we've talked about all these different things, but really it comes down to: do you want to take the risk with people's health?" she said in a formal address to the board.

But the meeting grew heated when two protesters began yelling at the board, with one telling board chairman Dr Lester Levy: "You are so arrogant".

"Why does Holland ban it, why does France ban it?... Use your brain," she said.

Long-time community activist Lisa Prager also grew emotional, telling the board "shame on you" and saying she would see them in court.

The pair were removed and, after a discussion, the board decided to discuss the continued use of the herbicide at next month's meeting after putting more time into the recommendations.

"It's very difficult for us to run our meeting if people are highly disruptive," Dr Levy commented.

Chief infrastructure officer Greg Edmonds told NZ Newswire after the meeting that he hadn't been swayed by the protesters.

"It's completely legal to use and in fact it's sold across the counter and used by thousands of people both in the agricultural industry and in their own home environments."

France and other countries have banned the private sale of the herbicide but New Zealand's regulator Environmental Protection Authority says the herbicide is safe to use.

Independent environmental scientist Dr Meriel Watts told NZ Newswire Kiwis were being exposed to the chemical all the time - and said other options were also cost effective.

"Nobody has monitored the health impacts... We haven't a clue how many have got sick from it."