National Farmers’ Union supports ECHA on herbicide safety

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has welcomed the conclusions of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) that scientific evidence does not classify glyphosate (a herbicide used on wheat) as a carcinogen for reproduction.

Guy Smith, NFU vice-president, has said the overwhelming weight of evidence shows that glyphosate poses no risk to human health when used correctly.

“This opinion is shared by regulatory bodies around the world, including the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN and the European Food Safety Authority,” Smith said.

“Glyphosate plays a vital role in agriculture in the UK and around the world. It reduces the need to use other herbicides, it helps to protect soil and cut greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the need for ploughing, and it enables farmers in this country to grow crops that help produce safe, affordable, high-quality British food.”

Over the past year, campaigners such as the Soil Association have urged bakers not to use wheat that is sprayed with glyphosate before harvest.

The European Commission will make its verdict later this year whether to lengthen the agreement for glyphosate weed killer use. The Commission originally proposed a 15-year marketing licence for glyphosate, and the renewal of the authorisation has been fiercely debated since March 2015.

Smith added: “Now ECHA has released its classification, there can be no reason why glyphosate should not be re-authorised for a further 15 years when the European Commission makes its decision later this year.

“We will continue to work with our members and with other European farming unions to ensure that the facts about glyphosate’s safety and importance are heard in the run-up to that decision.”

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