Thérèse Coffey’s ill-judged tweet shows we have still work to do to rid the planet of the glyphosate
On a summer Sunday afternoon, Thérèse Coffey, parliamentary-under secretary of state at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), was, it would appear from her Twitter feed, about to do some gardening. Unremarkable, you might think. Parliament is in recess, and parliamentarians are entitled to their leisure like anyone else.
But this was political gardening, for before doing so she put out a quite remarkable message: “Getting ready to deploy the amazing Roundup!” it said, with a picture of the bright green bottle of a weedkiller by Monsanto – a multinational company with a toxic reputation (as even Bayer, which has recently taken it over, acknowledges). The tweet came just hours after a US jury gave a terminally ill retired groundskeeper $289m in damages for his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which it attributed to glyphosate – the active chemical in Roundup.