glyphosate

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Vice President's Blog - 18 October 2019

18-10-2019

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Farmers need a full toolkit to feed the world


Science must come first, last and always in deciding the safety and effectiveness of plant protection products (PPPs). If the European Union want to continue to deliver the most stringent system in the world when approving substances, then they must fully commit to a science-based policy and allow farmers access to the full range of safe technologies and tools needed in order for them to meet the challenge of producing more food.

16 countries, including the United States, Australia and Canada, have spoken out to criticise the EU saying that its hazard based approach rather than a risk based approach, to regulating pesticides and other “critical tools” used by farmers was damaging livelihoods worldwide.

They said the EU’s approach has created great uncertainty and diverged from science-based risk assessments, creating disruption that threatened to escalate significantly in coming years.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that 26-40% of crop yields are lost to weeds, pests and diseases. Without plant protection products, it estimates these losses could double. If farmers are denied access to a full range of products, there will be a significant drop in global food production, and a subsequent hike in food prices and drop in food quality. A new report, commissioned by the Crop Protection Agency, suggests that the average weekly grocery bill for a family of four would rise by more than £15 a week – £786 per year – without plant protection products. The report states that “the removal of plant protection products would present a severe challenge to already hard-pressed households, exacerbate income inequalities and make healthy eating more expensive. Some of the largest increases in prices would be for vegetables and fruit.” 1

One of the more politically sensitive PPPs is Glyphosate. The current EU licence for glyphosate expires on 15 December 2022 and a meeting of EU member state representatives earlier this year endorsed a commission proposal for the relevant authorities of four member states, France, Hungary, Sweden and The Netherlands, to review the application to reauthorise glyphosate in the EU.

As a result of rigorous science-based regulatory assessments, regulators including the US EPA, European Food Safety Authorities (EFSA), European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), German BfR, and Australian, Canadian, Korean, New Zealand and Japanese regulatory authorities, as well as the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR), all support the conclusion that glyphosate-based products are safe when used as directed and that glyphosate is not carcinogenic.

Scottish farmers recognise the importance of professional and responsible use of products but should be able to utilise all options as part of an IPM system. Glyphosate and other plant protection products play a key role in effective crop protection which is essential to food production. Glyphosate reduces the need to use other herbicides, helps to protect soil and cuts greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the need for ploughing. It also enables Scottish farmers to grow crops that help produce safe, affordable and high quality food.

  • Glyphosate-based herbicides help enable farmers to control weeds with little or no tillage, which dramatically reduces the carbon footprint and helps farmers maintain healthier soil. There are 53% more earthworms in no plough systems of cultivation
  • Losing glyphosate would mean 546,000 hectares more land would be needed to grow the same amount of food in the UK
  • Glyphosate use allows 15% more rapeseed and 17% more wheat to be produced
  • The loss of glyphosate would also have a number of significant environmental impacts, including a 25% increase in greenhouse gas emissions from changes to agricultural practices. Soil quality would be damaged as more ploughing would be needed and bird habitats would be destroyed because of the need for increased mechanical weed control.

1  Plant Protection Products: The value of their contribution to lowering UK household expenditure on food and drink

What you can do to help

  • Contact your MSPs, MPs, and MEPs to explain to them the environmental and economic importance of glyphosate to you and your farm or croft
  • Invite your politicians onto your farm or croft to see the environmental and economic value of glyphosate first hand
  • Use social media to post photos and key non-technical points about the environmental and economic importance of glyphosate. Remember to use the hashtag #glyphosateisvital
  • Where appropriate, encourage your friends and neighbours to take the actions above.

Contact details of your MSPs, MPs and MEPs can be found at www.writetothem.com


Five reasons to back glyphosate




1.  Effective and efficient control of weeds leads to better agricultural yields, which reduces the need for imported food










2.  Glyphosate is a fundamental part of low or no tillage farming, which has many benefits for soils, biodiversity and water quality









3.  There is overwhelming scientific agreement that, when used correctly, glyphosate is safe for humans










4.  Glyphosate is a valuable pre-harvest tool which reduces the need for grain drying, with a consequently positive reduction in the need for fossil fuels








5.  Glyphosate is no longer patented, meaning no one company is controlling it nor profiting from it.

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