Two recent international decisions around the use of the herbicide glyphosphate have sent a shudder down the spine of Australian farmers.
A recent court case in the United States saw a jury effectively blaming the weedkiller Roundup for a school groundskeeper developing cancer, ignoring decades of scientific evidence.
Meanwhile, a federal court judge in Brazil last month ordered a glyphosphate ban despite the fact their national regulatory agency – and countless others across the globe – deemed it safe to use. That ban has since been lifted after being overturned on appeal.
These international examples highlight how important it is that decisions on chemicals used in agriculture remain in the hands of our science and evidence-based decision makers, rather than with judges and politicians who may not be subject matter experts.
Glyphosphate has been registered for use in Australia for 40 years with hundreds of scientific studies and reviews supporting the fact that it is safe to use and doesn’t cause cancer.
As the National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson said recently: “No other herbicide has been tested to the lengths that glyphosphate has.”
Australian farmers need ongoing access to glyphosphate products to ensure safe, reliable crop production, and our national regulator, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, has approved its use in over 500 products in the Australian market.
With weeds costing our grains industry more than $3 billion, glyphosphate is an important product in our tool kit that we cannot afford to lose.
In broadacre cropping, glyphosphate has helped farmers adopt minimum tillage, reduce soil erosion and cut carbon emissions.
In a nutshell, glyphosphate is vital to help farmers improve their productivity, to protect the environment on which we farm, and to help us produce more crops to feed a growing world.