NFUS urges mem­bers to fight to save weed­killer

The Oban Times - - FARMING -

AS THE date looms for the EU’s de­ci­sion on whether or not to reau­tho­rise the con­tro­ver­sial weed­killer glyphosate, the NFU Scot­land has called for farm­ers to get the mes­sage out on how im­por­tant it is.

The NFUS ar­gued the world’s most widely used her­bi­cide ‘must be re-autho­rised for a full 15 years, in­clud­ing for use pre-har­vest’ at the launch of its #GlyphosateIsVi­tal cam­paign.

The vast ma­jor­ity of arable and live­stock farms across Scot­land, it says, re­lies heav- ily on glyphosate to con­trol weeds, man­age har­vests and re­duce grain- dry­ing costs. But glyphosate has been the sub­ject of a re-li­cens­ing bat­tle which split gov­ern­ments, reg­u­la­tors and sci­en­tists.

The In­ter­na­tional Agency for Re­search on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion, in 2015 clas­si­fied glyphosate as ‘prob­a­bly car­cino­genic to hu­mans’, and said there was ‘lim­ited ev­i­dence’ that it was car­cino­genic in hu­mans for non-Hodgkins lym­phoma.

How­ever, an­other arm, the Euro­pean Chem­i­cal Agency (ECHA), judged glyphosate safe for pub­lic use in March, de­cid­ing that ‘the avail­able sci­en­tific ev­i­dence did not meet the cri­te­ria to clas­sify glyphosate as a car­cino­gen, as a mu­ta­gen or for re­pro­duc­tive tox­i­c­ity’.

ECHA was asked to as­sess its tox­i­c­ity af­ter EU coun­tries failed to agree on a re-au­tho­ri­sa­tion for the best-sell­ing her­bi­cide last summer.

In 2016, glyphosate was re-autho­rised for 18 months rather than the 15 years UK farm­ing unions, in­clud­ing NFUS, had called for.

The NFUS stated at its cam­paign launch in Cold­stream: ‘Given that glyphosate has now been given as much of a clean bill of health as any plant pro­tec­tion prod­uct is likely to get, and given its fun­da­men­tal im­por­tance to farm­ers across Scot­land, the NFUS is call­ing on its mem­bers to get in­volved in the ef­fort to en­sure that it is re-autho­rised for a full 15-year pe­riod when it is con­sid­ered again by EU mem­ber states and in­sti­tu­tions later this year.’

Pres­i­dent An­drew McCor­nick said: ‘Let your MEPs and the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion know how im­por­tant glyphosate is for you, and don’t as­sume some­one else will be do do­ing it so you need not bother. As a farm­ing com­mu­nity, we need to speak up for glyphosate, so please do your bit. The NFUS will be mak­ing its case on so­cial me­dia, us­ing the hash­tag #GlyphosateIsVi­tal, and I en­cour­age oth­ers to do the same.’

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