Call for scientifically-based discussion on glyphosate usage
OPEN, accurate, and scientifically-based conversations regarding the use of the weed killer glyphosate are essential for farmers and consumers moving forward, according to an industry professional.
Bayer corporate affairs leader Carissa Buckland told a recent Birchip Cropping Group field day the farming community had a role to play in educating the public about the use of glyphosate.
“The idea was to give a group of farmers some context and background as to why glyphosate has turned into one of the most divisive and debated topics of recent weeks,” Ms Buckland said.
“Growers make a decision regarding the best manner of growing a crop. What I would hope is that the decision they make, and help the public make, is a rational decision that is based on science.”
Ms Buckland’s comments come after weeks of debate about the use of the weed killer following a legal decision out of the US ordering chemical company Monsanto to award a groundskeeper with terminal cancer nearly $US290 million for failing to warn that use of the weedkiller could cause cancer.
It’s a judicial decision Ms Buckland disagreed with.
“We think the jury got it wrong,” she said.
“We think the issues as important as public health, and issues as complex as the cause of cancer, shouldn’t be left in the hands of a jury … but a peer-reviewed source and trained expert.”
Woomelang farmer Chris Kelly said one way growers could possibly placate consumer concerns over the use of glyphosate entering the food chain was to not spray-top crops, to avoid residue issues.
“It’s clear that you can legalise something, but what does it do to the value of your product?” Mr Kelly said.
“There are legal cases destroying the brand.”
Ms Buckland said she would encourage debate on the use of glyphosate in agriculture to be based on science, rather than speculation.
“If you don’t understand how your food gets on to your plate, you’re going to be susceptible to someone pushing a scare campaign,” she said.
“I think that agriculture as a whole – we need to get out of this cycle of only attracting media attention when there is a crisis.
“We need to get to a point where we’re able to talk to the general public about the values of agriculture, not how we farm, but why.
“The fact is that Australian farmers want to protect their families, and produce affordable, safe food for Australians, and we know people in the city want to buy it.
“In the end, we all want the same thing.”
SPEAKING OUT: Carissa Buckland talking during the seminar on global status, the US jury verdict and fallout, science, regulation and on-farm use.