Glyphosate safety is an issue that seems to have reared its head more often than usual this year.
We've been through this before - and we've always relied on the science to make decisions for our farm businesses. When it comes to farming systems, NSW Farmers is about choice, including promoting the ability of our members to make the choice whether or not to use glyphosate.
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. If we want to protect a product that underpins our industry's productive capacity and environmental stewardship, we have to leave this to experts in their field.
The APVMA is the independent regulator for pesticides in Australia and has determined that when glyphosate is used in accordance with label instructions, it is safe.
Three juries have recently found against Bayer in the US, claiming it is responsible for various illnesses, and demanding significant compensation. The emotion of a courtroom is delivered by smooth-talking lawyers, not expert scientists with years of experience.
The APVMA is not considering a review of glyphosate safety, or limiting access to products. But other jurisdictions are turning away from science, with rushed decisions that rely more on perception than on risk.
Residents in Sydney councils that have banned this tried, trusted and perfectly legal product should be concerned about the impacts of alternative products, which can be more dangerous and less effective. But this isn't an issue of city vs country - many consumers and commentators in metro areas have cottoned on to the fact the legal claims don't stack up.
Cooler heads must prevail. NSW Farmers urges the APVMA to continue to stand by its own assessment, and for governments to respect the evidence.
- Dave Mailler, chair of NSW Farmers Ag Science Committee