Political Leadership Lacking in Glyphosate Debate

Following today’s vote on glyphosate in the European Parliament, IFA President Joe Healy said Ireland and other member states have to stand up and support Commissioner Andriukaitis, DG Sante, who came out strongly last week in a speech expressing his frustration at the system and the power of so-called ‘Google Professors’. He fully supports a 10 year licence renewal for glyphosate.

Joe Healy said there is a clear lack of political leadership when it comes to supporting peer reviewed scientific opinion as is the case with the current debate regarding the reauthorisation of glyphosate. The current debate is clearly being driven by populism, based on politics and not science.

Mr Healy said, “Lack of political leadership across the EU is seriously undermining fact-based scientific opinion. This has resulted in the current debacle where important tools such as plant protection products, including glyphosate, could be lost to the agricultural sector. Glyphosate is an important agricultural, horticultural and amenity herbicide. It is used to minimise weed infestation from economically important crops. It has been used to excellent effect in Irish and European farming for almost 40 years.

“The herbicide is an integral part of the modern farming practice in both tillage and grassland production. It is a key arable crop management tool that allows farmers to produce an abundance of safe, affordable, quality food. Its judicious use allows us to adopt minimum tillage practices, thus preventing soil erosion and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the sector”.

IFA National Grain Chairman Liam Dunne said, “It is very clear that the glyphosate issue is being used as a political football by a small number of vested interest groups and some politicians to drive on their own agenda. It is vitally important that any decision to approve or not approve plant protection products is based on the best scientific evidence available and not on a political whim, a repeat of what happened in 2007 and 2016.

“Unfortunately, politics rather than science has been the main driver behind several important decisions taken in relation to crop production technologies in recent years. This has the potential to destroy the EU crop production sector in the near to medium term and will lead to significant land abandonment. The EU Commission must take a science based approach on these important matters”.

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