Letters to the Editor – January 16, 2019

There is a future for glyphosate

Re: Agriculture contemplates life without glyphosate (WP, Jan. 2).

Weed scientist Hugh Beckie is right on the mark when he says the loss of glyphosate in the weed control arsenal would be a major blow. CropLife Canada, on behalf of Canada’s plant science industry, agrees whole-heartedly that tools which have been demonstrated to be both safe and effective must remain available to farmers so that they can continue to grow safe and healthy crops in an environmentally sustainable manner.

And while farmers in Australia may be convinced that they will lose access, I would encourage Canadian farmers not to lose hope. There is indeed a battle going on, but there is cause to think we will prevail. Here’s why.

Over 150 countries around the world, including Canada and the United States, have approved glyphosate for weed control in food production. Furthermore, some of the most respected of these regulatory bodies have strongly reaffirmed their conviction that this product has been appropriately reviewed and can be safely used.

Health Canada, for example, says it “left no stone unturned” in exploring concerns raised about glyphosate and has no doubts or concerns about the scientific basis for its approval of glyphosate.

And while much has been made of U.S. courts awarding financial damages to past users of the product, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and the justice department have both indicated those verdicts should be repealed because glyphosate is not a carcinogen.

These are not the kinds of comments made by regulatory bodies considering reversing their decisions.

Beckie’s suggestions for alternatives farmers could use for weed control are important since farmers should consistently be looking at ways to reduce the potential for resistance to emerge, but Canada’s plant science industry remains committed to innovation and to fighting to retain glyphosate’s registration. After all, glyphosate is an important tool in global food production and its role in preserving soil health and reducing carbon emissions from agriculture must not be overlooked.

I understand why farmers around the world might be worried, but my fervent hope is that Canadian farmers turn that worry into words. Let your provincial and federal elected officials know that this is an issue that matters to you. Share with them the impact glyphosate has on your livelihood and soil health and remind them that the tools we use in agriculture not only help to keep people fed, but also to protect the environment and strengthen our economy.

Pierre Petelle,

President and CEO, CropLife Canada

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