Minister backs glyphosate, Fitzgibbon calls for review

Minister backs ag chemical regulator, says glyphosate is 'safe'


Farm Online News
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.

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Federal politicians have weighed into the glyphosate debate.

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Federal Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud, has weighed into the glyphosate debate saying the science showed the popular farm pesticide could be used safely.

Mr Littleproud has also thrown his support behind the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, who regulates the use of chemicals including glyphsate, after the independence of the APVMA was called into question during an ABC Four Corners program that aired last night.

“I back the APVMA. I am confident the APVMA is competent and independent,” Mr Littleproud said.

“I have taken steps to further protect its independence by introducing legislation to have a skills based board to protect the transparency and accountability of the APVMA and its function.

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

Sources quoted during the Four Corners program questioned the funding model used for many regulatory bodies.

But Mr Littleproud has backed the process. 

“A cost recovery model funds independent regulators across multiple industries and this is appropriate,” he said.

“Agri-chemicals, their registration and safety are all handled by the independent regulator – the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.”

Meanwhile, Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Joel Fitzgibbon has called for a Senate inquiry into the independence of regulatory decisions made by the APVMA.

He said the inquiry would consider the effectiveness and responsiveness of the APVMA’s processes for reviewing agricultural chemicals – including glyphosate.

“It will also consider the funding arrangements for the APVMA and any impact they have on its independent, evidence-based decision making,” he said. 

“Finally, the inquiry will consider the impact of the APVMA’s relocation on its capacity to undertake reviews of agricultural chemicals in a timely matter.

“There is no doubt the Government’s decision to relocate the APVMA has impacted on its operations.”

“This issue is too important to the agricultural community, to Australia’s farmers, and to consumers to be left unresolved.”

Ag chemical giant, Bayer, who last month merged with the maker of Roundup, Monsanto – the first company to patent glyphosate – has also released a statement saying the chemical had been used safely for four decades. 

“We would like to set the record straight after the mischaracterisation of glyphosate in the ABC Four Corners report, which aired on Monday, October 8,” the statement reads.

“This program did not accurately or fairly reflect the safety of glyphosate.

“The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)’s 2015 classification of glyphosate is an outlier even within the World Health Organisation (WHO) system.

“The classification of glyphosate as a probable carcinogen places it in the same category as red meat and very hot beverages.

“IARC is just one of four WHO agencies to have assessed glyphosate – the other three agencies found that glyphosate does not present a cancer or human health risk.

“Since IARC made this assessment, regulatory authorities in the European Union, Germany, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Canada and the United States have reaffirmed that glyphosate does not cause cancer.

“The extensive body of research on glyphosate and glyphosate-based herbicides includes more than 800 rigorous registration studies required by regulators, which show these products are safe when used as directed. In its 2017 post-IARC cancer risk assessment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  examined more than 100 studies conducted by different parties and concluded that glyphosate is ‘not likely to be carcinogenic to humans’ -  its most favourable rating.

“Further to this, the Joint World Health Organisation/Food and Agricultural Organisation Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues also found glyphosate does not cause cancer.

“Additionally, the largest and most recent study by the US National Cancer Institute which followed over 50,000 pesticide applicators in the U.S. found no association between glyphosate-based herbicides and cancer.”

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