In recent weeks, the media has reported on concerns over the use of the herbicide glyphosate, leading to misinformed commentary regarding its safety. It is crucial any debate on farming and agricultural chemicals is based on scientific evidence and independent assessment, so it’s necessary to separate fact from fiction.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and non-scientific agency, found glyphosate to be a probable carcinogen in 2015. This simply means glyphosate poses the same risk as eating red meat, drinking hot beverages and working as a hairdresser while posing less risk than drinking alcohol, sunlight and sawdust. The following year, the ‘Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues’ (JMPR) with representatives from the United Nations and WHO concluded that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans. Further, the JMPR found it was not necessary to establish an acute reference dose because of glyphosate’s low acute toxicity.
Australia’s own independent regulator, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), examined glyphosate in 2016 and found no grounds for its approved uses to be reconsidered. In fact, every independent, science‑based global regulatory agency including Germany, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and the European Union, has comprehensively evaluated glyphosate and found it safe to use in accordance with label directions. Not only that, but glyphosate is a crucial tool for Australian farmers to manage weeds, improve productivity and protect the environment on which they farm.
The science confirms glyphosate-based products are safe when used properly. More than 800 scientific studies and independent regulatory safety assessments support the fact that glyphosate does not cause cancer or environmental harm. Opinion shouldn’t be used to determine policy or law. Qualified and credible sources, not rhetoric, are the only places to go to inform yourself about matters such as this.