FARMER representative bodies have expressed concern over the misrepresentation of glyphosate on last night’s episode of 60 Minutes on Channel 9 television.
WAFarmers Grains Council president Duncan Young said the portrayal of glyphosate had been blown out of proportion.
“Yet again, we have another program lacking substantial scientific evidence, relying on pseudo-scientific claims and hearsay, to alarm the general public for non-other than gaining audience ratings,” Mr Young said.
“What the program failed to address is the clear and overwhelming scientific evidence from independent regulators that glyphosate-based products are safe.
“It is critical for Australian agriculture that the Government and general public are well informed and not swayed by misleading commentary.”
Mr Young said detailed analysis and assessment had been carried out in over 800 scientific studies and reviews, including by Australia’s independent regulator, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Association (APVMA).
“Every independent, science-based regulatory agency around the globe has comprehensively evaluated the herbicide and found it safe to use in accordance with label directions,” he said.
“Glyphosate is sold by various manufacturers around the world and is the world’s most regularly applied herbicide and is used in conjunction with other agricultural chemicals to effectively and safely minimise weed emergence.”
Mr Young said herbicides were essential tools for Australian farmers, allowing on-farm productivity, ensuring yields meet global food supply and allowing farmers to use cropping techniques that have less environmental impacts.
“It is crucial that any debate on farming is informed and based on scientific evidence and not on rhetoric driven by emotion,” he said.
“The public need to understand that the Australian regulatory system is supported by highly-qualified and globally respected medical and toxicological scientists who have decades of experience and knowledge on agricultural chemicals.
“The APVMA examined glyphosate in 2016 and found no grounds for its approved uses to be reconsidered.”
Sensationalist and misleading
The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) also slammed the 60 Minutes program.
“The reporting seen last night on 60 minutes was sensationalist and misleading,” VFF president, David Jochinke, said.
“The reporter asks interviewees if they would drink glyphosate, as if that’s a measure of the safety of the product. Of course, you should not drink glyphosate, but that does not mean it isn’t safe to use as a herbicide.
“You also shouldn’t drink dishwashing liquid, multi-purpose cleaner or fly-spray. Yet we all have these chemicals in our homes and understand that they are safe to use for their intended applications.
“Like all agricultural chemicals, glyphosate must be handled with care, used in line with manufacturer’s instructions, and operators should wear personal protection.”
Mr Jochinke said Australia had a rigorous, science-based approach to regulation which ensured agricultural chemicals were independently assessed by the APVMA.
“Similarly, our registration system is supported by a range of post-market surveillance and review activities that ensure our produce is the best in world,” he said.
“Furthermore, every science-based regulator around the world, including the APVMA, Health Canada, the European Food Safety Authority, the European Chemicals Agency, New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority, the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues reached the same conclusion, finding glyphosate as safe for human, animal and environmental health when used according to label instructions.
“Sustainably producing safe food is the core purpose of agriculture. The VFF will continue to be led by the scientific consensus and by the Australian regulator, the APVMA, on safe, responsible use of glyphosate and other agricultural chemicals to produce the best food possible.”
Sources: WAFarmers, VFF