Fashion designer Katharine Hamnett has started a one-woman campaign to ban herbicides from Britain’s parks as she says eating a picnic has become akin to drinking the chemical straight from a bottle.
Hamnett, who was awarded a CBE in 2011 for services to the fashion industry, has been personally pinning up leaflets campaigning to stop Hackney Council using a herbicide containing glyphosate in London Fields.
The designer, best known for her slogan T-shirts’, claims that ingesting glyphosate weedkiller, which is used in London Fields, can cause kidney failure, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and birth defects. She suggests that by being sprayed in parks people visiting them are at risk of taking the chemical into their body if they have picnics.
“I think it presents an unacceptable risk,” Hamnett told The Daily Telegraph.
“I don’t think anyone has got any idea what is going on. Councils all over England are using it for weed control, it’s toxic to aquatic organisms and its already in people’s urine.
Hamnett said she has been “outraged” at the use of the chemical in London Fields and is “horrified at the prospect of even one more of the many hundreds of young picnickers sitting on the grass near the sprayed area, and eating with their hands, no faster route to ingesting it apart from drinking it directly from the bottle.”
She said the weedkiller is a “danger” for children and dogs who pass through there.
She is calling for it to be banned form London Fields, and would like to see this extended across the whole country.
The leaflets, featuring the banner ‘Ban poisonous herbicides from our parks now’, urge people to use their European election vote to choose a candidate who will lobby against the use of the chemicals. It also lists the negative health effects of glyphosate which Hamnett said is classed as “dangerous for the environment” by the EU.
The leaflet says: “Use your vote, councils matter a lot but MEPs are more powerful than members of UK Parliament.”
Hamnett, who graduated from Central Saint Martins College, claims people are “up in arms” about the issue, and that the council has already taken down some of her leaflets.
She has organised a public meeting on Saturday May 17 in London Fields. Tony Juniper, former director of Friends of the Earth, and Keith Tyrell, director of Pesticide Action Network UK, are among the speakers to appear at the meeting.
Hackney Council said a number of authorities used glyphosate for weed control and it had been declared safe by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). It also said any posters put up without permission would be taken down.
Kim Wright, corporate director for health and community services at the council, said: “In the case of the London Fields wildflower meadow, it (glyphosate herbicide) is used to control aggressive weeds which would otherwise soon dominate and displace the colourful flowers that were intentionally planted. It is always administered by qualified staff following the application guidelines. We do not use it on grass.
“There is no evidence to suggest glyphosate as used by councils or people in their gardens treating weeds is detrimental to the environment or human health.”