The Soil Association has written to the UK bread industry asking it to ban glyphosate as a pre-harvest desiccant.
With the wheat harvest due to start, the EU has advised restricting use of glyphosate as a pre-harvest spray, but individual member states can decide whether to implement this.
Writing to Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Morrisons, ASDA, the Co-op, M&S, Warburtons, Hovis, Braces Bakery, Allied Mills, the Bakers’ Federation and NABIM (the association which represents the UK flour milling industry), policy director Peter Melchett, says: “The Soil Association is disappointed that glyphosate’s license has been extended until December 2017, although the fact that the 18-month extension is far shorter than the 15 years originally proposed has come as a huge blow to the pesticide industry.
“The Commission made clear that it supports three important curbs on glyphosate use that were recommended by the European Parliament.”
These conditions, agreed on June 29, include banning co-formulant tallowamine from glyphosate-based products, reinforcing scrutiny of pre-harvest uses of glyphosate and minimising use in areas such as public parks and playgrounds.
Mr Melchett wrote: “In light of mounting evidence that has found glyphosate is not the benign chemical that you were led to believe, the Soil Association believes all these conditions must be implemented as soon as possible.
"For users of UK flour, the key step must be to ban the use of glyphosate as a pre-harvest desiccant on crops due to enter the human food chain.”
This ban has been the focus of the Soil Association’s Not in Our Bread Campaign.
“There is still time to achieve this before this year’s harvest begins,” Mr Melchett wrote.
“The response from UK bread manufacturers to our previous requests has been to say that UK industry is waiting to see what was decided in Europe.
“The European decision has been taken you must now take responsibility for the quality of your own supply chain.”
Last year, the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and EFSA European Food Safety Authority reached different conclusions on the safety of glyphosate.
The EFSA’s report says “glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans and proposes a new safety measure that will tighten the control of glyphosate residues in food”.
The IARC declared glyphosate a category 2A ’probable human carcinogen’.