Glyphosate herbicide application ignites opposition from other farmers

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 2nd November 2016
Wheat harvest

The industry body that represents broadacre growers of grains, pulses and oilseeds, Grain Producers Australia (GPA) applied on 1 November, 2016 to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), the national regulator, for permission for growers to use glyphosate (sold commercially as “Roundup”) to kill weeds in the lead-up to harvests.

The APVMA is expected to rule on the application in the next few days.

However, some Australian livestock producers have joined with Barley Australia in opposing the application.

Traces of glyphosate in batches of barley could compromise export markets for the entire barley industry according to opponents of the application.

The livestock producers who have joined with Barley Australia have similar misgivings that traces of the herbicide in their meat or dairy products could be destructive of trade relationships, such as with China.

Barley Australia is concerned that the APVMA should delay its decision for three years while a scientific analysis is undertaken of the impact of glyphosate, its use and its consumption in all markets.

Current status of glyphosate

In November, 2015, the European Food Safety Authority published an updated assessment report on glyphosate, concluding that “the substance is unlikely to be genotoxic (i.e. damaging to DNA) or to pose a carcinogenic threat to humans.” Furthermore, the final report clarified that while other, probably carcinogenic, glyphosate-containing formulations may exist, studies “that look solely at the active substance glyphosate do not show this effect.”

In May 2016, the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues concluded that “glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet”, even at doses as high as 2,000 mg/kg body weight orally.