Germany’s state-owned rail company to stop using glyphosate by 2022

Deutsche Bahn, the state-run national rail company, is to cease the use of the weedkiller glyphosate by the end of 2022 in response to concerns about its impact on human health and the environment, the Transport Ministry said in Berlin on Thursday.

Deutsche Bahn will test the effectiveness of so-called “bio-herbicides,” the ministry said in response to a parliamentary question from Mathias Gastel, railway spokesman for the Greens.

Deutsche Bahn chief executive Richard Lutz committed the company to halving the use of glyphosate, also known under the brand name Roundup, this year and to phasing it out entirely by 2022, in a letter to Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer at the beginning of this month.

The company uses the weedkiller, which has a licence for use in the EU up to 2022, to keep its tracks clear of vegetation.

In 2017, Deutsche Bahn used 67 tons of glyphosate. Drought last year led to a significant reduction. The company plans in future to use hot water, electric current and ultraviolet radiation to cut unwanted vegetation.

Gastel welcomed the move. “It will have a signalling effect,” he said.

There is continuing uncertainty over whether glyphosate, one of the world’s most commonly used weedkillers, causes cancer in humans.

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