Industrial-strength weed killers and pesticides are being made widely available to untrained amateur gardeners on eBay and other websites, an investigation by Greenpeace Unearthed has found.
So-called ‘professional pesticide products’ – aimed at farmers and groundskeepers – contain chemicals in concentrations that cannot legally be used by anyone untrained in their safe use. But there is no law against selling these products to unqualified buyers.
Risk to health and environment
Pesticide manufacturers believe some vendors are exploiting this loophole to deliberately market professional products to amateurs on eBay and other websites. Environmental campaigners warn that, without proper training, amateurs using these products pose a risk ‘to their own health and the environment’.
Unearthed has seen a written briefing by the Crop Protection Association – which represents some of the world’s largest pesticide companies – which describes the online sale of professional pesticides to amateurs as an ‘area of significant concern’.
The briefing says professional products available on eBay and other websites – particularly those containing the weedkiller glyphosate – are ‘frequently listed or advertised with amateurs clearly as the target audience using words such as ‘Very Strong’, or ‘Strongest’, or ‘Super Strength’.’
It states, ‘They often do include the word ‘professional’ however there is a belief that this is being used to highlight that the product is better or ‘stronger’ than the products typically available for amateur gardeners.’
Glyphosate and cancer
Unearthed identified several sellers on eBay that advertise professional pesticides in this way, including some eligible for the company’s ‘premium service’ reserved for the sellers who meet eBay’s ‘top rated performance standard’.
The news comes just weeks after a California jury ruled that the glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup contributed to a former schools groundskeeper developing terminal cancer, and ordered manufacturer Monsanto to pay damages of $289 million. Monsanto has said it intends to appeal the decision.
Searches by Unearthed in recent weeks found that professional strength glyphosate products were widely available on eBay.co.uk.