Opinion - Glyphosate debacle shows how well-fed bureaucrats risk food security

arableCrop protectionGlyphosate
Andrew Watts, Hertfordshire farmer and former NFU combinable crops board chairman

Andrew Watts, Hertfordshire farmer and former NFU combinable crops board chairman


Many people will never have heard of John Franz, a Monsanto chemist, but his discovery of glyphosate in 1970 changed the face of weed control across the world.


Arguably the most significant crop protection product introduced, certainly in the herbicides, it eradicated couch on farms, which was a huge problem without really effective other methods of control.


Its benign environmental profile and reliability brought in a new era of weed control.


Paraquat still had a place, but its use declined and it was later withdrawn.

The latest shenanigans in Brussels before glyphosate was granted a reprieve will do nothing to reassure farmers over the regulatory process.


The NFU and many others have long argued for measures to be based on risk not hazard, and yet this principle continues to be ignored.


Before we all get too worked up about the EU (I shall avoid that topic) our own regulators are hardly any different - as witnessed in the debate over neonicotinoid dressings.

A reprieve is just that, a temporary respite, and much work will need to be done to secure a longer term solution.

Low-till and no- till systems are heavily dependent on this product as a means of reducing cultivations, and energy inputs, seen as good things.


If withdrawn, it would lead to a return to multiple cultivations for weed rearrangement (rather than control).

Put simply, glyphosate is a product which at the moment is vital to many farming systems, the world over. There is no alternative product that is comparable.

Organisations may deny it, but a key driver by some non-governmental organisations to get it banned stems from its use in genetically modified (GM) crops, for weed control.


If it was banned then de facto we could not grow GM crops - a very limited outlook in the long term for food production.

In summary, to remove a product which is so vital to crop production the world over, on a highly debatable hazard and not risk basis, without considering the impact on food supply is a step that would only be taken by politicians with full stomachs,
21,000 people die every day in the world from starvation or malnutrition, not one death has ever been linked to glyphosate. John Franz we salute you.

Twitter Facebook
Rating (0 vote/s)
Post a Comment
To see comments and join in the conversation please log in.

Recent Posts

Recent Posts

From the editor: Come on vegans, isn't it about time we had a rational debate?
"I don't think Dairy Farmers can have a rational "...
From the editor: Dairy industry collaboration is the only way forward
"The milk market has set back a lot of farmers who "...
Opinion- Justin Fox, historian and environmentalist
"Yes, there's a ridiculous amount of hyperbolae "...
Young Farmer Focus: Sophie Barnes, Taupo, New Zealand
"Brilliant get up & go for it attitude that NZs "...
From the editor: Rural communities need more than just vast housing estates
"You need to hit the National Planning Policy F"...
FG Insight and FGInsight.com are trademarks of Briefing Media Ltd.
Farmers Guardian and FarmersGuardian.com are trademarks of Farmers Guardian Ltd, a subsidiary of Briefing Media Ltd.
All material published on FGInsight.com and FarmersGuardian.com is copyrighted © 2016 by Briefing Media Limited. All rights reserved.
RSS news feeds