This article first published in GM Watch

Farmers can maintain yields and protect health.

This year the EU will decide on the re-approval of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, the world’s most popular and controversial weedkiller. Exposure to the herbicide not only poses a risk to human health and other living organisms, it also threatens biodiversity and the future of agriculture.

Published in collaboration with the European Greens, PAN Europe’s new report shows that much safer non-chemical alternatives exist for all known major uses of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) and how the transition to a glyphosate-free agricultural system is economically feasible.

There is a widespread misbelief that herbicides are safe for human health and have little impact on the environment. Mainstream agricultural systems are now almost completely dependent on the use of herbicides, including glyphosate.

Weed management is one of the major challenges in agriculture, particularly in arable and vegetable cropping systems but there are other solutions to glyphosate. Dr Charles Merfield, a world-leading expert in non-chemical weed management and the main author of the report, says, “Managing weeds without agrichemical herbicides is entirely feasible. Organic farmers and growers have been doing this for over 70 years! Scientists and machinery companies have built up a huge amount of experience, expertise and science, and have developed techniques and many machines for non-chemical weed management.”

As the report shows there are safer low and high-tech alternatives to glyphosate in weed management. Farmers can maintain their yields, avoid weeds building resistance, protect soil health and biodiversity, and minimise erosion. In parallel, they protect their own health and that of their families and neighbours.

Dr Merfield adds, “Shifting to non-chemical weed management requires changes to the wider farm system, principally diversification, such as a wider range of crops and livestock, in a rotation. This will have multiple benefits for the farm and shared environment, e.g., soil health, biodiversity, fewer novel entities (such as agrichemicals) in the environment, cleaner water and air, and so on. Moving from herbicide-dominated weed management to integrated weed management focused on non-chemical techniques is not therefore a risk, rather it is a huge opportunity to improve all aspects of farm systems including profitability.”

Download the Report:

Source: PAN Europe