Our farmers rely on Roundup to keep production ticking
DEBATE over the role glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup plays in farming has come to a head following calls by the Cancer Council Australia for a review of the chemical.
The World Health Organisation's International Agency for Research on Cancer classed glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015 and recently a Florida man successfully sued Roundup producer, Monsanto, for $289million after developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
"We are concerned that this issue's not being taken seriously enough in Australia, particularly by the agricultural industry," Cancer Council Australia CEO Dr Sanchia Aranda said.
"The IARC report is independent and does suggest that there is absolutely a reason for concern."
However, any move to restrict the use of Roundup will have repercussions for the agriculture industry.
Southern Downs farmer Graham Janz and his son run a 2000-hectare mixed grain operation. He said Roundup was integral to modern farming practices.
"You'd couldn't do what we do without it," he said.
Those practices opt for the least amount of soil disruption in an effort to save moisture, reduce erosion and increase carbon retention.
Mr Janz said leaving paddocks fallow has benefits that would be undermined if they returned to the old days of ploughing weeds away. But he added farmers could be more mindful when spraying.
"We're all a bit slack I suppose. If I'm tank mixing something with Roundup I'll be a bit more careful, I'll wear a mask and gloves, but I wouldn't wear full overalls," he said. "We consider Roundup to be on the low end of the scale of toxicity."
Agriculture Minster David Littleproud has resisted calls for a review of the chemical and said the independent farm toxin regulator - Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority - should be left to do its job.
"Politicians don't make decisions on which chemicals are safe or how they should be used; the scientists do - as they should," he said.
"The weight of the objective scientific evidence shows when used in accordance with label instructions, glyphosate can be used safely."