Australia’s first glyphosate lawsuit, has farmers concerned about the future of the essential and safe herbicide.
This week a Melbourne based gardener launched legal action against the manufacturer of glyphosate in an Australian-first case. The Plaintiff claims 18 years of using Roundup, a herbicide in which glyphosate is the active ingredient, caused his non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis.
Glyphosate is the most widely used by farmers to control weeds in cereal and other cropping systems, to prevent the spread of noxious weeds and to encourage biodiversity.
The herbicide has been approved safe for use by every regulator in the world and as recently as April this year was deemed by the United State Environment Protection Authority not to be a carcinogenic.
“There is no evidence that glyphosate causes cancer. There’s no risk to public health from the application of glyphosate,” EPA assistant administrator for chemical safety and pollution prevention Alexandra Dunn said.
National Farmers’ Federation Fiona Simson said in the face of such robust science this week’s development was disappointing.
“For many years, the NFF on behalf of farmers has put the safety of glyphosate under scrutiny and we are more than satisfied with the scientific rigour confirming its continued application.”
“As farmers we understand the concerns of some Australians, we appreciate the questions, we have asked them ourselves, but we remain confident in the science and the ability of the regulator, including the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, to make informed decisions based on facts.
Recently two Californian juries that ruled in favour of two plaintiffs who claimed to have developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma after years of using Roundup. The most recent US lawsuit against glyphosate saw a jury award a Californian couple, who also claimed the herbicide gave them cancer, more than $2 billion.
The NFF has questioned the bases for those court rulings, given there are more than 800 studies that say glyphosate is safe to use.
“No other agricultural herbicide has been tested to the extent that glyphosate has. There is an extensive, international body of scientific work – spanning 40 years and 800 studies that affirms that glyphosate is not a cariogenic, and more precisely, that it does not cause Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma,” Ms Simson said.
“Farmers, like all citizens, care about the safety and health of their families and farm workers and of their impact of their practices on the land they manage.
“Through better weed control, improved soil health and water use efficiency, the addition of glyphosate has allowed farmers, in particular cotton, cereal, oilseed and pulse growers, to greatly improve their productivity per hectare.
“Australian farmers are trusted across the world for producing safe sustainable food and fibre – glyphosate plays an important role in making this possible.”
Visit Australian Farmers‘ campaign page to find out the facts about glyphosate, its safety and its role in Australian farming.