Just weeks after the widely used weedkiller glyphosate was granted interim reapproval by the European Commission for 18 months, a call has been made for UK bread firms and supermarkets to avoid wheat crops which had been treated with the spray in the run-up to harvest.
Organic certification body the Soil Association, which has lobbied for glyphosate and glyphosate-based products to be banned, said its use as a pre-harvest treatment was “fundamentally wrong”.
The organisation’s policy director, Peter Melchett, said: “Wheat harvest will start in the next few weeks, and we are asking bread companies to act now and put a stop to glyphosate as a pre-harvest desiccant in their supply chains.”
Melchett said that when the EU granted interim approval for the product, it advised that the use of glyphosate as a pre-harvest spray on food crops should be restricted. However, he admitted that it had been left up to member states to decide whether or not to apply this restriction.
He said that the response from UK bread manufacturers to previous requests to avoid wheat from crops treated with the desiccant was to say the UK industry was awaiting a decision from Europe.
“The short term and conditional approval for the continued use of glyphosate has clearly confirmed that there are, at the very least, doubts about the safety of glyphosate,” he added.