The Soil Association says that the Federation of Bakers (FOB) is “wrong” for branding its Not In Our Bread campaign as “misleading”.

The FOB commented on the campaign this week, which aims to stop the use the pesticide glyphosate on wheat crops.

It said that while it may be legitimate to have a debate about glyphosate, it was “misleading to highlight bread” in the campaign.

The campaign was launched after scientists at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) claimed that the widely used weed killer was “probably” carcinogenic.

It asks the public to sign a petition urging manufacturers to stop using wheat sprayed with glyphosate in products, which will be sent to firms including Hovis, Warburtons, Allied Bakeries and Brace’s and all major supermarkets.

‘Glyphosate should be kept out of all staple foods’

Peter Melchett, policy director at the Soil Association, said: “The Federation of Bakers is wrong to say it is ‘misleading’ for the Soil Association ‘to highlight bread’ when talking about the presence of glyphosate in British food.

“First, as far as we know, milling and biscuit wheats (along with oats and rye) are the only crops which go directly into human foodstuffs, that are regularly sprayed with glyphosate just before they are harvested, increasing the likelihood of the spray ending up in our food. If the Federation of Bakers knows of any other food crops sprayed with glyphosate in this way, leading to glyphosate in products for human consumption, we would be interested to hear of them, as we believe glyphosate should be kept out of all staple foods.

“Second, as the Federation of Bakers knows, it is the UK Government’s own testing programme that has highlighted bread as the food in which glyphosate is most frequently detected.”

A further review into the pesticide is being routinely carried out by the European Food Safety Association (EFSA) but an initial review by the German Risk Assessment Authority (which takes the lead for regulating glyphosate in the EU) has said that there is no significant relationship between exposure to glyphosate and an increased risk of cancer.

‘Scare stories’

The FOB has responded again to The Soil Association, and said: “The Soil Association may wish to debate the use of pesticides, and glyphosate in particular. However the IARC report refers to exposure being “mostly agricultural” and that glyphosate is used widely in “forestry, urban and home applications” as well as on agricultural crops. 

“It says that “the agricultural use of glyphosate has increased sharply since the development of crops that have been genetically modified to make them resistant to glyphosate”; GM crops are not grown in the UK.  The Soil Association doesn’t help its case by trying to create scare stories about a product, the vast majority of which has no glyphosate residues. 

“If the Soil Association want to discuss the issue they should come and speak to us instead of trying to grab headlines.”