Call for sci­en­tif­i­cally-based dis­cus­sion on glyphosate us­age

Central and North Rural Weekly - - BULL RIDING - Madeleine Stuch­bery news@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

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.”

PHOTO: CHLOE SMITH

SPEAK­ING OUT: Carissa Buck­land talk­ing dur­ing the sem­i­nar on global sta­tus, the US jury ver­dict and fall­out, science, reg­u­la­tion and on-farm use.

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