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Pesticide-Free Guildford Campaign

With support from concerned Guildford residents and the national campaign group Pesticide Action Network (PAN UK), GEF requested that Guildford Borough Council (GBC) take action to make Guildford a pesticide-free town.


GEF petitioned GBC to phase out pesticides in their publicly managed green spaces. They gained over 500 signatures, and the petition led to a motion that was debated in the Council Chambers in December 2021. Following speeches by Helen Harris and Frances Rollin from GEF’s Biodiversity group, and Nick Mole from PAN UK, Guildford councillors voted unanimously to support the motion to make Guildford a pesticide-free on Tuesday 7th December 2021.


In taking this decision, Guildford joined over 60 other cities, towns and boroughs in the UK that are working to phase out their use of pesticides.

Extinction Rebellion Guildford is strongly opposed to the use of glyphosate in our borough.

The use of glyphosate as a weedkiller is highly dangerous to human health, as well as incredibly destructive to Surrey's ecosystems during this time of high species extinction rates. 

XR Guildford believes that use of glyphosate in Surrey should be banned for the following reasons: 

1. there are multiple cases of terminal illness in people who have been in contact with glyphosates 

2. Monsanto have waged a multi-million dollar campaign to conceal the truth about the safety of their glyphosate products. Rather than prove it safe, they have bribed and lobbied politicians and charlatan scientists to hide damning research

3. We are living through the sixth mass extinction. Glyphosate does not discriminate between the species it destroys. We are losing insects and pollinators at a rate that threatens global food stability

What are Glyphosates?

Are Glyphosates Safe?

Glyphosate is a weedkiller chemical (branded as Round Up, Weedol etc.), which is applied widely to both 'weeds' and the crops that much of the world consumes.  This herbicide has been subject to many trials over its safety, and shown to cause cancer in animals.  The companies which produce these chemicals have spent millions of dollars trying to distort the science and cover their tracks by bribing disreputable scientists. 

Bottle of RoundUp manufactured by Monsanto using carcinogenic glyphosate and labelled with a California Health Warning about risk of birth defects. Monsanto used court action to remove tis sticker despite it having been shown by an independent inter-governmental panel to be true

california warning for glyphosates

In 2019 alone Monsanto (the corporation who makes  Round Up) has been forced to pay-out over $2 billion to litigants who have cancer after using their weedkillers.

Glyphosates have also been shown in several studies to cause disruption to the reproductive and endocrine systems, leading to depression and mental health issues. 

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has labelled glyphosate a probable carcinogen.  


The companies which produce these chemicals have spent millions of dollars trying to distort the science and cover their tracks by bribing scientists. These corporations have convinced the authorities to classify glysophates as safe partly by paying off governments, in particular US congress, and partly by using a technicality to avoid classification as a carcinogen. 

Glyphosates react via the shikimate pathway. Humans and animals do not possess this pathway. Corporations selling glyphosates have therefore have convinced governments to brand glyphosates as safe.

However, this is disingenuous at best, but more accurately described as complicit in wilfull harm to the global population.Whilst it is true that humans don't possess this chemical pathway, bacteria do.


There are billions of bacteria in and on our bodies. So as soon as humans come into contact with glyphosates they begin to react with the bacteria in our bodies. This contact can be ingestion, inhalation, or skin and eye contact.

On top of this, it is thought that glyphosates may be more dangerous when they react with other chemicals in the weedkillers. Therefore testing the glyphosate alone is not an accurate portrayal of is effects on human and animal health. 

California even introduced a label on glyphosate bottles stating that the product caused cancer, birth defects, and reproductive issues. A judge banned this label under pressure from the glyphosate lobby, claiming that one agency declaring its likelihood of causing cancer was not enough evidence. He failed to note that this one agency is an international agency, and the study was made up of 17 experts from 11 countries. This is a perfect example of the broken system we live in. 

Are glyphosates used in Guildford? 

Surrey County Council operates contracts across the county using glyphosate to kill weeds. 

Spraying is carried out twice a year, once in late spring, and once in the autumn. It is readily apparent when this is done, as the verges of our pavements, schools and playing fields turn from a lush green to a poisonous looking yellow. 

Surrey County Council states this on their website.....''Weeds are controlled using environmentally friendly and effective herbicides.'' This is a total misrepresentation of the facts about these dangerous weedkillers.

There are no restrictions on where glyphosates are sprayed in Surrey. In fact, SCC uses the following criteria to assess where to spray....''A weed is a plant growing in a location where it is not wanted.'' 

Grass burnt from glyphosate use by Surrey County Council contractors on Albury Heath in Guildford

glyphosate use at albury heath, guildford

This recklessly loose control of dangerous chemicals in Surrey therefore results in Surrey County Council being complicit in spraying carcinogenic products around our parks, playgrounds, playing fields, and schools.  

Why do Surrey County council use toxic glyphosates?

The simple answer is cost.


There are alternatives which are proven safe to humans and animals. But continues to SCC  demonstrate that  they care less about the health of Surrey residents than they do about cheaper contracts. This is a result of incompetent council management during the current and past administration which has left the council with a multi-million pound deficit. They now attempt to claw this deficit back at the expense of Surrey residents. 

This is not the only field in which SCC demonstrates a total disregard for residents' health. They continue to engage with fossil fuel companies in granting licenses for oil and gas exploration in the county. Current exploration sites have proven to generate illegal levels of air pollution for local residents, as well as hugely increased noise and vibration pollution. There is a huge increase in risk from of water sources being polluted around these sites. There have been instances of unexplained nosebleeds in residents and livestock around these sites, as well as multiple earthquakes correlated with drilling at Horse Hill.

On top of this, the SCC pension fund refuses to divest the pensions of our hard working public servants from fossil fuel companies. Our teachers, police, and nurses, those who dedicate their lives to protecting and educating us, are being forced to invest their futures in the companies that are poisoning our air and water. 


There are multiple alternatives to herbicides and glyphosate, which we as individuals and our councils can adopt. ALL of them are environmentally friendly, and can even save money. 

1. let it grow!!! This is obviously our preferred choice. Rewilding our countryside and towns can play a huge part in tackling climate and ecolgical breakdown. Letting it grow supports biodiversity and brings insects and pollinators back to the area. 

2. Foamstream - This is used by Lewes council as an alternative to glyphosate. It is completely non-toxic, kills weeds if you really have to do that, and removes graffiti and chewing gum! A good alternative herbicide to propose to councils from a money saving aspect.

3. Make your own organic weedkiller - again, if you really can't let it grow there are loads of recipes for home made organic herbicides, using household products like vinegar and salt. Search online for your favourite.


4. Get the scythe out! Scything has a number of benefits for both weed control and lawns. Firstly, it doesn't disturb the soil like mowing, nor leach chemicals into the soil. It also allows for controlled cutting of just a few inches, and is far less destructive for the wildlife living in your lawn or hedgerows 

How can I stop my local council using glyphosates?

If you want to stop your local council using toxic weedkillers, there are ways to get involved.


You can get in touch with XR Guildford and join our campaign to follow the lead of councils like Lewes who have implemented and outright ban on glyphosates. Austria looks likely to the use of glyphosate across the nation in the immediate future.


Alternatively, PAN UK - the Pesticide Action Network - run a  nationwide campaign and have tons of literature to help you get started on removing glyphosates from you local area. 

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