Oat buyer says no to preharvest glyphosate

Grain Millers, a major oat buyer in Western Canada, will no longer purchase oats if the crop has been desiccated with glyphosate.

In an April 20 memo to Prairie oat growers, Grain Millers said the new policy was “driven by functional performance attributes of finished products manufactured from oats known to have been treated with glyphosate and by customer demand.”

Edgar Scheurer, Prairie Oat Growers Association vice president, said the decision is disappointing.

“It’s unfortunate because Roundup is registered on oats for pre-harvest application,” said Scheurer, who farms near Dugald, Man.

“Even in their memo… they said there’s no safety issues. They’re just giving in to pressure by certain groups even though there is no scientific backing to this decision.”

Terry Tyson, Grain Millers procurement manager in Yorkton, Sask., said the company has been considering this policy for a few years.

About three years ago they started to notice problems with oat groat quality, which resembled frost damage, but weren’t sure about the cause.

“When mills cut, flake or roll the groat, it is chalky, it’s brittle, it breaks apart and the finished product doesn’t make spec, in terms of granulation or absorption,” Tyson said.

“The groat integrity is affected much like an early frost affects groat integrity…. (But) frost damage you can see on the groat. You can control it… by rejecting a truckload or carload…. The damage with this issue is somewhat subtler.”

Tyson said the company discovered that glyphosate was the cause of the frost-like damage, through a process of elimination.

“It literally took the last two or three years (to figure it out).”

Scheurer said desiccating oats with glyphosate is a common practice in Western Canada. Of the growers who straight combine oats, about 40 to 50 percent use glyphosate to hasten and even up crop maturity.

He said oat quality would suffer without glyphosate.

“When you swath, you get rain and then you get mildew. Then you get downgrades,” he said.

If a farmer doesn’t desiccate and waits for the crop to mature before straight cutting, it increases the risk of shattering and the possibility of rain, which could cause quality downgrades.

In March the World Health Organization issued a report on glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, and four other pesticides. WHO experts concluded that glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans.

Toxicologists and pesticides experts have condemned the WHO decision, saying it contravenes four decades of science showing that glyphosate isn’t a threat to human health.

Scheurer said Grain Millers responded to pressure from activist groups, who want to ban agricultural pesticides

“They should base these decisions on science and not based on pressure from the Sierra Club or whoever.”

Tyson said Grain Millers didn’t make this decision because of customer or public concern about glyphosate residues. He added that company testing has demonstrated that glyphosate residues are not a problem for oats.

“In our testing in the last few years on this, we never once found a sample of oats with glyphosate residues in excess of the established maximum limits.”

Grain Millers, Inc. Glyphosate on Oats Policy memo to prairie oat growers:

This communication is to serve as official notification that as of harvest 2015 Grain Millers, Inc. will no longer accept any oats and/or oat products which have been treated with glyphosate. This change is driven by functional performance attributes of finished products manufactured from oats known to have been treated with glyphosate and by customer demand. This policy does not suggest any health or food safety concerns as reviewed and regulated by both the US FDA and/or CFIA/Health Canada.

Contact robert.arnason@producer.com

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  • Mike

    Who gives a crap on science which is biased to the chemical company, I would frankly care more about the science and reality of the final product. Safe and healthy food! That’s what this is about and frankly its about time somebody in the grain buying industry has smartened up. I am a grain farmer myself and I have not nor will ever consider applying a product to something I am about to eat. Every farmer is the same, and believe me, this reality that ” we have been using it for years, its completely safe” IDEA has brainwashed all farmers. The maximum limits! What the hell is that, why any at all is what I ask. I don’t want any of it in my food.
    I am skeptical of the thought that the product is completely safe, and I have argued it before. If glyphosate is completely safe then drink a glass of it. Go ahead and take the oats that you sprayed and desiccated and feed it to yourself or your family since you are so confident that its okay. Shame on the man whose reputation is all he is. A farmer providing food for someone else and doesn’t even care what he is doing and how he is doing it is essentially involuntary manslaughter or something alike.
    I have grown great oats and there has been green kernels and lots of straw and all of the typical issues you would know to have when growing oats and none of it has ever been a problem in the end. Not a word said for the green kernels and the straw is just something you have to deal with, work it in and get some nitro back into that soil….FARM! Your growing Oats for petes sake! Glyphosate use goes up in the fall because farmers get a double whammy. They get to clean up there fields while at the same time killing all remaining living oats plants so that they do not have to swath. Well I hate to break it to you farmers out there, you probably have too much land, need more help or are just plagued by the idea that because you have a straight cut header you have to use it.
    I want to grow a good sustainable product which is healthy for me and my family and endorse good management practices. Farmers that use glyphosate need to stop believing a company whose bottom line is profits. Being confused that these company’s goal is to help and aid the farmer, instead of thinking for themselves and understanding that the company’s only bottom line is dollars AND the more glyphosate used is more dollars in there pocket.
    More and more consumers will become aware and in the end we as farmers will have to start providing something the world wants. To me corporate ag is a NO and boo to glyphosate use for preharvest. Eat well…

  • stubblejumper

    Fine time to bring this nugget forward.
    A registered product is no longer allowed.
    Why wasn’t something said last fall so we didn’t prepare to put oats into rotation again.
    Enjoy your moldy oats!

    • mps380

      If you can’t grow oats without Glyphosate you shouldn’t be farming. We have been doing it for generations without quality issues. I don’t see this as a big issue.

      • stubblejumper

        Where we farm uneven ripening is a major issue.
        We grow malt barley and when oats come in to rotation, pre-harvest is preferred.
        Ive been farming 35 years. Maybe you should keep your opinions of others practices to yourself.

        • Dayton

          Doubt you spray your malt barley so what’s the diff.? Each market has different options. Yours is Pony food.

  • Dayton

    We applaud Grain Millers on this bold move. Seems glyphosate has become the tool of convenience for most farmers. In the last 10 or more years we’ve grown 500 to 1200 acres of Oats annually for Grain Millers. With good sound management we have never had any quality issues. Never used Glyphosate either.

  • Denise

    Who gets to decide what the amount of glyphosate residue constitutes “an excess of established maximum amounts”? Ah yes, the regulators and their chemical company “scientists”. And you wonder why the consumers are growing more suspicious everyday?
    I don’t recall the consumers, ever, being consulted (on this most serious of matters), of whether they were willing to accept this standard of allowable toxins in our food. We are suposed to trust the experts,right? A little poison won’t kill you. Not quickly, anyway. The chemical companies know best!
    Frankly, what parent, in their right mind, would want ANY amount of pesticide chemical residue in the food they are feeding their children?
    I knew they were desiccating the wheat, but I did not know they were desiccating oats
    ,as well.
    Am I, as a consumer, more suspious and angrier than ever? You bet.

    • neil

      the government departments and regulators decide on the safe residue limits not the chemical companies. Its the same government scientists that decide on limits of natural molds, fungus, bacteria, pharmaceutical drugs, etc that are on foods or taken as medication. They are working on behalf of the consumer. I feed my children all the food I grow on my farm because government regulators have protected me with their own research not the chemical companies research.

      • Dayton

        Seems most farmers use glyphosate for it’s convenience. Is it necessary, no. There are other options.

        • neil

          I agree with you they can be swathed instead of preharvest.

      • Denise

        Hopefully,the EPA will drink some truth serum and be honest with the public,so we can move ahead in a postive direction. (WP- US Regulators May Recommend Testing Food For Glyphosate – Apr.17, 2015)
        Doing the same thing over and over again, when problems are growing bigger and bigger, expecting a better or different result next time ,is a waste of time ,money, common sense and very damaging.
        The great minds in the biotech and chemical companies believe YOUR solution to the superweeds is to increase the amount and use of glyphosate and other other toxic chemicals. They are operating in desperation mode.
        The EPA doesn’t test for glyphosates ,in the food supply, because it’s TOO expensive? Government regulators, chemical companies, and the biotech industry play merry- go- round to keep the status quo in place.

        As well as wanting to see happy and healthy kids grow up to be healthy and productive adults (not crippled by preventable diseases) I ,also,want the benefical insects, bees and butterflies back.
        Glyphosate is killing all the milkweed plants on which the Monarch butterflies depend to reproduce. We are going to lose them at the rate we are going.

        • neil

          I agree with several of your points. I don’t follow what the EPA does because that is in the USA. I think we have a very good safety system in Canada but I realize some people would disagree with me. I am very concerned with herbicide resistant weeds on my farm so am trying to do other practices to avoid them without leaving my soil vulnerable to erosion which on my hilly land is a very high priority. The food system is complex and so it should be with something as important as our daily need for existence. I respect that more consumers are very concerned what we are doing. It has evolved over many years as our society has, we farmers and regulators need to show justification of why we do what we do or change if that is what consumers want and demand.

  • Paleo Rick Niagara

    RED FLAG – “In our testing in the last few years on this, we never once found a sample of oats with glyphosate residues in excess of the established maximum limits.” – ARE THESE THE SAME MAXIMUMS THAT KEEP RAISING.


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