Farm groups positive about glyphosate report, but some concerns raised

For Cam Dahl, the key message to Canadians about glyphosate residues is simple: the system works and food is safe.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency published a summary last week based on two years of testing food for glyphosate residues. The CFIA found that 1.3 percent of 3,188 food samples exceeded the maximum residue limits.

“The most important part of the report … is that all of the results were reviewed by Health Canada and there is no risk to Canadian health,” said Dahl, president of Cereals Canada.

“So this is a good news story.”

The CFIA and Health Canada concluded that glyphosate residues pose no health risks, but the agency found that 3.9 percent of grain products were above the MRL.

Bill Gehl, chair of Sask Wheat, said the result isn’t a major concern, but cereal growers may need to tweak their practices.

“It’s a very small amount … (but) I don’t think it’s a good news story when we have any amount of things over top of the MRLs.”

Neil Harker, a weed scientist with Agriculture Canada, said the source of residues in cereal and pulse crops is spraying glyphosate before harvest to dry down the crop for combining.

Gehl said cereal growers should be applying glyphosate at 30 percent crop moisture or less because spraying at higher moisture levels can cause higher residue levels in grain.

“The science is there that if we do follow labels properly, that the MRL issue will be dealt with at the farmgate,” Gehl said.

“This (report) should be a (reminder) to say, ‘hey guys, we’ve got to perhaps make some minor changes in our production practices so we make sure that a small issue doesn’t become a large problem.’ ”

Spray timing may partly explain why 3.9 percent of grain products were over the MRL, but the residue limit was also a factor.

The CFIA used a default MRL of .1 parts per million for most grain products.

“If there isn’t an established MRL in place for a particular product, it of course goes back to a very small default level,” Dahl said.

The CFIA has published a summary of its glyphosate residue findings, and an agency spokesperson said Canadians can request a full report, which will be emailed to them.

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