Stick to coffee... and glyphosate

Keep to the facts when arguing about glyphosate


Opinion
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Based on the science if we ban glyphosate we'll have to also take a long, hard look at coffee says NSW Farmers' David Mailler.

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Glyphosate use has been in the news lately, and it’s likely we’ll be hearing more about it in the coming weeks.

From NSW Farmers’ perspective, it’s critical that debates on agricultural chemicals are based on fact.

Glyphosate has been used safely for the past four decades in Australia, and around 500 products containing glyphosate registered for use in Australia.

On-label use of glyphosate helps to reduce the cost of production and increase productivity, sustainability and yield, as well as delivering environmental benefits on-farm. 

​Access to glyphosate is important to allow for sustainable no-till agricultural practices, limiting soil disturbance and reducing the release of carbon from soil.

It is important that we respect the choice of individual farmers and land managers to use a product that has been extensively tested by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, the most rigorous independent safety testing regime in the world.

Worldwide, more than 800 scientific studies and reviews, including numerous independent regulatory safety assessments, support the fact that glyphosate is safe and does not cause cancer.

Like every chemical, the dose makes the poison, and decisions about product safety need to be made in context.

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Anti-glyphosate arguments rest on a ruling from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic.

But the IARC also deems coffee, aloe vera, pickled vegetables, hairdressing and carpentry as possibly or probably carcinogenic.

If we were going to rule out glyphosate on the basis of a possible carcinogen, we would have to be prepared to make some serious lifestyle decisions about flat whites.

  • By David Mailler, NSW Farmers’ Agricultural Science Committee chairman
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