I was very sad to read that Ireland is backing the EU proposal to renew the license for glyphosate. This is a weedkiller also known as Roundup. It is available in many outlets and commonly used to control weeds in gardens and other areas throughout the country.
Last year the UN World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on cancer published their findings on glyphosate. Their research was based on animal tests and they reported that it was probably carcinogenic to humans.
However,an evaluation carried out by Germany and reviewed by the European Food Safety Authority did not establish a link with cancer and it is on that basis that Ireland’s Department of agriculture decided that safe uses had been identified. Therefore Ireland is one of nineteen countries voting for the license to be renewed.
Glyphosate has been around for quite a while having been originally been developed by Monsanto. Now that their original license is expired the product is now marketed under different names. Its widespread use has been causing a great deal of controversy with strong feelings on both sides.
Here, the Irish Farmers Association have expressed concerns about the impact on the tillage sector if glyphosate is taken off the market and they are also worried about well the effect on the European wheat and grain prices.
This, of course, is understandable – as is anything that affects livelihoods. There are those who gasp at this, saying that farmers should look at the bigger picture and think of the environment.
However, it is easy to say this when our own elected government has backed the continuing use of glyphosate and in doing so has reassured its users that the substance is safe. We should be asking our politicians why – if we make it an issue they will too.
I am not going to blame people for continuing to use a product that they are told is safe. Blame won’t solve the problem. Education and awareness and political pressure might.
Some farmers are already aware and are using natural methods like rotation crops and permaculture to grow food without damaging or polluting the environment. Their success in business is what will incentivise the others to change. We can help this by supporting them.
Supporting them can mean asking questions in supermarkets and being willing to pay a little extra to buy organic foods and by seeking out locally produced from farms that use natural farming methods.
By doing this we are not only helping to stop our industries from using products that are harmful but we are also setting an example for our children, after all, it is they that will inherit this earth and it is surely up to us to make sure there is still some earth left for them to inherit.