Sep. 18, 2019
A number of state farmer organisations and the crop protection sector have slammed the current affairs program '60 Minutes' for what they claim is inaccurate and sensationalist reporting regarding the controversial herbicide glyphosate
The 60 Minutes program highlighted the health concerns surrounding the herbicide, including links between the product and cancer.
However, the report was widely rubbished within the agricultural sector for its lack of understanding about the subject, including footage of a sprayer going down a golf course, which if it contained glyphosate would have poisoned the entire fairway and for sensationalist claims.
David Jochinke, Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) president said the report was misleading.
"The reporter asks interviewees if they would drink glyphosate, as if that's a measure of the safety of the product. Of course you should not drink glyphosate, but that does not mean it isn't safe to use as a herbicide," Mr Jochinke said.
He said common household products also failed the 'do not drink' test but said no-one was calling for their ban.
"You also shouldn't drink dishwashing liquid, multi-purpose cleaner or fly-spray. Yet we all have these chemicals in our homes and understand that they are safe to use for their intended applications," he said.
Mr Jochinke said the report had ignored Austrralia's stringent approach to farm chemicals.
"Australia has a rigorous, science-based approach to regulation which ensures that agricultural chemicals are independently assessed by the Australia Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA)."
Matthew Cossey, chief executive of CropLife, Australia's plant protection peak body, said the report ignored the science on glyphosate's safety.
"The world's most advanced, independent and scientifically-competent regulators have assessed and reassessed glyphosate and declared it to be safe," he said.
He said along with the APVMA in Australia the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reaffirmed the safety of glyphosate, finding it is not a carcinogen.
Mr Cossey said one of the key planks regarding the controversy on glyphosate's safety, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) finding that the product was a probable carcinogen was overstated.
"IARC's role is for advising regulatory bodies on potential hazards, allowing the relevant regulatory agencies to assess if there are any associated risks and manage them appropriately."
"Furthermore, following an investigation by the international news organisation, Reuters, it was found that IARC edited out studies confirming glyphosate's non-carcinogenic status.
"The integrity of the IARC process was completely compromised and it is ethically questionable for those involved in that process to continue to mislead, misinform and seek to falsely scare the public regarding the monograph on glyphosate."
"The community has a right to be informed about glyphosate, but it's crucial they are informed by the independent experts."
Duncan Young, WAFarmers grains section president said his organisation had concerns over the 60 Minutes report.
"Yet again we have another programme lacking substantial scientific evidence, relying on pseudo-scientific claims and hearsay, to alarm the general public for non-other than gaining audience ratings," Mr Young said.
"What the programme failed to address is the clear and overwhelming scientific evidence from independent regulators that glyphosate-based products are safe.