1 July 2016
The registration of crop protection products should be undertaken on a fact and science-based process and be an independent decision, not one warped by the actions of misguided and misinformed activists. It is disappointing the European Union (EU) systems are now so dysfunctional and politicised that the European Commission had to make a last minute intervention which only provided an interim 18 month approval for glyphosate. This stands as a serious warming to Australia about why it is so crucial to protect and maintain our own independent, comprehensive data based registration system that is free from undue influence.
The European Commission has renewed the registration licence of glyphosate, an active ingredient in many crop protection products, for another 18 months until the end of 2017. The re-registration of glyphosate by the EU is crucial to the security of Australian exports to the European market and a sudden expiration of the approval would have had serious consequences for Australian farmers. The bureaucratic bumbling and politicking by the EU member states poses a genuine threat to global food production security and international trading of commodities. It is now essential that the EU efficiently undertake the processes to allow for the approval of glyphosate for the originally proposed registration period of 15 years.
Considering the extensive scientific evaluation carried out by the relevant EU agencies which concluded that glyphosate poses no unacceptable risks either to human health or to the environment, the renewal should have been a straightforward process resulting in a standard 15-year registration. The recent evaluations from the relevant EU agencies, the European Food Safety Authority and the BfR, found unequivocally that glyphosate poses no unacceptable risks either to human health or to the environment.
These findings are in addition to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) jointly administered expert scientific group’s recent findings that glyphosate in unlikely to present a public health concern both in the short and long term. Another two of the four WHO programs – the Core Assessment Group and the International Programme on Chemical Safety – both concluded glyphosate is not carcinogenic. The WHO Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality program also concluded glyphosate does not represent a hazard to human health.
Crop protection products are essential to the production of safe, nutritious, affordable and pest-free food, feed and fibre. Australian farmers and natural landscape managers require agricultural chemicals to manage an environment that is constantly under attack by fungus, weeds and pests.
Without the use of crop protection products, the total value of Australian crop production would be devastated and reduced by 68% according to a recent Deloitte report. Food staples such as onions, strawberries, lettuce, potatoes and rice all completely rely on the use of crop protection products to be commercially grown in Australia. That is why it is crucial that such important decisions are based on the overwhelming scientific evidence rather than political parties captured by ideological activists.
All agricultural chemical products registered in Australia by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority undertake a chemical hazard and risk assessment that includes an exposure assessment to ensure their safety for human health and the environment. This process assesses in detail the likely exposure of humans, users and members of the public, and environmental organisms and takes into account how the chemical product is to be used, the type and formulation of the product, and the crops or animals to be treated. The registration process of all pesticides involves years of data collection, field trials, health and toxicology analysis and comprehensive assessment before approvals are granted and a product can be sold on the Australian market.
For more information on glyphosate registered for use in Australia visit www.apvma.gov.au
Statement by Mr Matthew Cossey, Chief Executive Officer of CropLife Australia