09 October 2018

Briefing note - Victorian Farmers Federation Statement on Glyphosate

Why glyphosate?

Glyphosate is used in Australia by numerous agriculture sectors to control weeds. It is also used for the same purpose by many home gardeners. Glyphosate is a popular product in that it is precise and when applied to weeds it prevents them making a protein they need to grow.

Weeds cost Australian agriculture billions of dollars.

According to the Australian Government, weeds destroy native habitats, threaten native plants and animals and choke our natural systems including our rivers. The Government estimates that “weeds cost Australian farmers around $1.5 billion a year in weed control activities and a further $2.5 billion in lost agricultural food production”. (Source: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/weeds/weeds/why/impact.html)

Global regulatory approvals

Regulatory authorities around the world have approved the use of glyphosate, including the US Environmental Protection Authority and the European Food and Safety Authority.

In the past 3 years alone regulatory authorities in the European Union, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States have publicly reaffirmed that glyphosate does not cause cancer.

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.

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) study) study needs to be viewed in context. Working night shift and interrupting the body’s sleep pattern; drinking coffee and exposure to aloe vera are all ‘possible carcinogenic’ activities.

In Australia, the responsible regulatory authority is the APVMA (the Australian Pesticides and Medicines Authority).

The APVMA states that: “All glyphosate products registered for use in Australia have been through a robust chemical risk assessment process and are safe to use, provided they are used as per the label instructions”.

The APVMA has concluded that there is currently no scientific reason to reconsider the registration of glyphosate.

In Australia

Australia has one of the most robust, science-based, chemical regulatory systems in the world. There are around 500 products containing glyphosate registered for use in Australia.

Glyphosate has a 40‐year history of safe use and continues to be an important tool for farmers.

Aussie farmers – serious stewards

Australian farmers take the stewardship of agricultural chemicals very seriously – including ensuring that they apply all products in accordance with the label, that weather conditions are suitable, and that protective clothing is worn where necessary. All people using agricultural chemicals, at home or on the farm, should follow best practice application.

Farmers suffer significant production loss as a result of weeds, which results in a less reliable production/food supply for Aussie and overseas consumers.

Glyphosate has supported farmers utilising minimum or ‘no till’ agriculture – a practice which results in the soil being disturbed less. Conservation tillage can reduce soil erosion, improve water retention and maintain carbon storage.

Farmers utilise the best available tools to manage and minimise the impact of weeds. Glyphosate is a proven tool – in terms of performance and its safety – to ensure ongoing reliable safe production.

The VFF – safe production

The Victorian Farmers Federation and the broader agricultural sector will continue to work with our regulatory authorities to ensure that all decisions relating to chemical registrations in Australia are underpinned by science-based data.

The Victorian Farmers Federation supports our members, farmers, having the necessary tools – including chemical controls where necessary – to produce high quality produce for our domestic and international customers.

The Victorian Farmers Federation is committed to continual improvement and best practice techniques and tools for our farmers to support the reliable production of healthy, safe, affordable produce.

Further information

Australian Farmers glyphosate backgrounder: https://farmers.org.au/campaign/glyphosate/
Most recent APVMA glyphosate review link 23 March 2017: https://apvma.gov.au/node/26636
CropLife glyphosate link: https://www.croplife.org.au/glyphosate/

WHO IARC reports:
https://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/MonographVolume112.pdf
https://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/2016/glyphosate_IARC2016.php

IARC rejecting Reuters comments: http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/IARC_Response_Reuters_October2017.pdf

Reuters article:
https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/who-iarc-glyphosate/

Andrew MacDonald, VFF Media:
 0418 282 875