Life with­out Roundup

Warwick Daily News - - NEWS - MICHAEL NOLAN Michael.Nolan@war­wick­dai­lynews.com.au

DE­BATE over the role glyphosate-based her­bi­cide Roundup plays in farm­ing has come to a head fol­low­ing calls by Cancer Coun­cil Aus­tralia for a re­view of the chem­i­cal.

The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s In­ter­na­tional Agency for Re­search on Cancer classed glyphosate as “prob­a­bly car­cino­genic to hu­mans” in 2015 and re­cently a Florida man suc­cess­fully sued Roundup pro­ducer, Mon­santo, for $289 mil­lion af­ter de­vel­op­ing non-Hodgkin lym­phoma.

“We are con­cerned that this is­sue’s not be­ing taken se­ri­ously enough in Aus­tralia, par­tic­u­larly by the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try,” Cancer Coun­cil Aus­tralia CEO Dr Sanchia Aranda said.

“The IARC re­port is in­de­pen­dent and does sug­gest that there is ab­so­lutely a rea­son for con­cern.”

How­ever, any move to re­strict the use of Roundup will have reper­cus­sions for the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try.

South­ern Downs farmer Gra­ham Janz and his son run a 2000-hectare mixed grain op­er­a­tion. He said Roundup was in­te­gral to mod­ern farm­ing prac­tices.

“You’d couldn’t do what we do with­out it,” he said.

Those prac­tices opt for the least amount of soil dis­rup­tion in an ef­fort to save mois­ture, re­duce ero­sion and in­crease car­bon re­ten­tion.

Mr Janz said leav­ing pad­docks fal­low has ben­e­fits that would be un­der­mined if they re­turned to the old days of plough­ing weeds away. But he added farm­ers could be more mind­ful when spray­ing.

“We’re all a bit slack I sup­pose. If I’m tank mix­ing some­thing with Roundup I’ll be a bit more care­ful, I’ll wear a mask and gloves, but I wouldn’t wear full over­alls,” he said. “We con­sider Roundup to be on the low end of the scale of tox­i­c­ity.”

Agri­cul­ture Min­ster David Lit­tleproud has re­sisted calls for a re­view of the chem­i­cal and said the in­de­pen­dent farm toxin reg­u­la­tor – Aus­tralian Pes­ti­cides and Vet­eri­nary Medicines Author­ity – should be left to do its job.

“Politi­cians don’t make de­ci­sions on which chem­i­cals are safe or how they should be used; the sci­en­tists do – as they should,” he said.

“The weight of the ob­jec­tive sci­en­tific ev­i­dence shows when used in ac­cor­dance with la­bel in­struc­tions, glyphosate can be used safely.”

IS IT SAFE? Cancer Coun­cil Aus­tralia CEO Dr Sanchia Aranda (above) has called for re­view into how farm­ers use Roundup but Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter David Lit­tepround (right) said there was no need to change the cur­rent rules.

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