After months of indecision the European Union has voted this week to extend the licence of the herbicide glyphosate for five-years.
Glyphosate is commonly known in the rural sector under its trademark name of Roundup.
It needs to be recognised that this chemical has been around since registration in 1974 and has been used commercially for well over 40 years.Jim Pratley
Charles Sturt University (CSU) Emeritus Professor Jim Pratley from the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation discusses the implications for Australian agriculture.
“Thankfully the European Union has voted to extend the life of the commercial herbicide glyphosate,” he said.
Professor Pratley said the action to ban the herbicide on the other side of the world could have a spill-over effect to Australia.
“This sorry episode began with a report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer which made the statement that glyphosate was probably carcinogenic,” he said.
Professor Pratley said the comment was based on selective data and there are no reports to confirm this was the case.
However, it was taken up as an issue by activists and the availability of glyphosate has been threatened.
“It needs to be recognised that this chemical has been around since registration in 1974 and has been used commercially for well over 40 years,” he said.
“It is the world’s most commonly used chemical over a long period of time and its availability and its efficacy needs to be protected,” he said.
Professor Pratley said French President Emmanuel Macron indicated that glyphosate should be banned in France “as soon as alternatives are found and within three years at the latest”.
“There are no alternatives and won’t be within three years,” Mr Pratley said.
“All companies have been searching for another Roundup and thus far have turned up nothing. It is a once-in-a-generation herbicide.”
He said the loss of glyphosate to Australian farmers would be devastating and the herbicide had enabled farming to address totally the soil erosion disasters of 30 years ago through conservation farming techniques.