Call for '˜scientific' debate on vital herbicide

Scottish farmers joined others across the UK in calling for a 'science-led common sense' approach to be taken ahead of a the final vote on the re-authorisation of glyphosate '“ the world's most commonly used herbicide '“ in Europe this week.

Glyphosate is used to control weeds and ripen crops. Picture: John Devlin
Glyphosate is used to control weeds and ripen crops. Picture: John Devlin

The herbicide, which is widely used by Scottish farmers to control weeds and as a pre-harvest desiccant to help ripen crops, is also frequently used by gardeners, local authorities and groundkeepers.

The decision on re-registration will be taken over the next few days by a specialist EU committee.

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The group will consider conflicting reports on the safety of the product, with a study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), claiming that glyphosate is “probably” able to cause cancer, a view which was contradicted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

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Earlier this week, a joint committee of experts from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that glyphosate was “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans” exposed to it through food.

Speaking at a meeting of NFU Scotland’s combinable crops committee yesterday, chairman Ian Sands said: “For many, many years, glyphosate has been safely used on Scottish farms to control weeds, help ripen our grain and ensure we continue to produce quality crops on Scottish farms.”

He said the volume of evidence and the views of influential experts should leave the standing committee members in no doubt that glyphosate should be re-approved, a view which was backed by the European Parliament.