NFU Scotland’s Combinable Crops Committee believes science-led common sense must prevail when a standing committee considers re-authorisation of Europe’s most commonly used herbicide, glyphosate this week.

Glyphosate is widely used by Scottish farmers as a herbicide to control weeds, and as a pre-harvest desiccant to help ripen crops.  However, it is also the herbicide used most widely by gardeners, local authorities and groundkeepers.

A European standing committee is scheduled to decide tomorrow (Wednesday 18 May) and on Thursday on whether to re-approve products containing the active substance glyphosate.

The standing committee will be considering a report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), claiming that glyphosate is “probably” able to cause cancer. That claim was later contradicted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).  Only yesterday (16 May), a joint committee of experts from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that glyphosate was “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans” exposed to it through food.

Speaking at a meeting of NFU Scotland’s Combinable Crops Committee, taking place at Ingliston, Chairman Ian Sands said: “For many, many years, glyphosate has been safely used on Scottish farms to control weeds, help ripen our grain and ensure we continue to produce quality crops on Scottish farms.

“We believe the volume of evidence and the views of influential experts should leave the standing committee members in no doubt that glyphosate should be re-approved with no caveats attached.

“The European Parliament has recently backed re-approval and food experts have given their views this week on the product’s safety.

“On that basis, we believe the committee must agree to full re-approval of glyphosate for 15 years, thereby preserving the important role that this herbicide has in keeping our crops clean and healthy.”

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