Letter to the editor

To the editor,

I look forward to reading LG Focus each month, as it provides interesting insights into what is going on in the diverse world of local government. However, when I eventually got around to reading the August issue, I was appalled at the unattributed article on glyphosate.

The article regurgitates the usual rhetoric I would expect to see from ill-informed anti-everything activists. 

It cites without question a report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015 which claimed that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic”. That report has now been comprehensively discredited – but no mention of this was made in the article.

No other herbicide has been subjected to as many rigorous tests and investigations as glyphosate and yet there is no scientific proof that it has harmed anyone.

At the same time, there is clear evidence that it has reduced the environmental impact of agriculture, allowing us to sustainably produce more from finite resources of land and water thus improving the lives of millions of people.

In 2017, the European Food Safety Authority completed a reassessment of glyphosate as part of the EU’s pesticide renewal process. Using a risk-based, weight-of-evidence assessment approach, EFSA considered an extensive body of scientific evidence – including the IARC review– and determined that there was no credible evidence that glyphosate causes cancer
in humans.

The US Agricultural Health Study has been tracking 89,000 farmers who use glyphosate for 23 years. It has found “no association between glyphosate exposure and all cancer incidence or most of the specific cancer subtypes evaluated”.

In 2016, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) commissioned a review of the IARC report along with various risk assessments undertaken by expert international bodies and regulatory agencies. This review concluded that glyphosate does not pose a carcinogenic risk to humans when used in accordance with guidelines and that there are no grounds to place it under formal reconsideration.

Experts the world over have categorically deemed glyphosate safe.  
Unfortunately, we live in an age where rational science-based evidence struggles to stand against ill-informed opinion, and the divide between those growing food and those eating it is stark.

I expect better of a publication that is meant to be objective and is directed at a target audience that relies on facts to inform decision-making. In this instance, you have failed to meet that standard.

Jan Davis
Councillor, Northern Midlands Council